Women's Paid Work in a Developing Urban Economy: Barcelona in 1930 Articles uri icon

publication date

  • January 2008

start page

  • 375

end page

  • 401


  • 3


  • 26

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0212-6109

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2041-3335


  • In this paper we explore the determinants of women's work using data from Barcelona in 1930. Although participation rates were much lower in Barcelona than in cities in the UK or the US at roughly the same time, our estimates of the labour supply suggest women in Barcelona did respond to wage incentives. The most distinguishable feature of the household division of labour in Barcelona is the lack of substitution effects among family members, especially among women. The sensitivity of the participation of each individual woman to the participation of other members of the household might indicate that labour markets were highly segmented and anticipates the existence of large differences in household earnings and welfare. Weargue that the persistence of labour-intensive methods of production requiring on-the-job training might explain the type of household division of labour that we find in Barcelona.