Across State Lines: Mobility, Women’s Employment, and State-Level Childcare and Gender Empowerment

Liana C. Landivar , Maryland Population Research Center
Leah Ruppanner

In the United States, interstate moves can knock women out of the labor market. Married women often become “trailing spouses,” relocating for their husbands’ career opportunities and reducing their own attachment to the labor force. Here, we ask whether moving to a state with higher rates of gender empowerment and lower childcare costs mitigates some of the negative effects of interstate moves. We combine data from the 2011-2015 American Community Survey, state-level childcare costs, and an index of state characteristics to assess women’s employment following an interstate move. We find moving to a state that ranks higher on gender empowerment is associated with higher employment rates among women. In addition, mothers are more likely to remain employed if they move to a state with lower childcare costs. Although interstate mobility has negative consequences for women’s employment, states’ levels of gender empowerment and childcare costs have important ameliorating effects.

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 Presented in Session 151. Gender and Migration