In 1990, U.S. women's labor force participation rate (LFPR) was 74 percent, sixth highest among 22 economically advanced countries. By 2010, it had risen slightly to just over 75 percent, while the LFPR of women in other economically advanced countries had increased substantially, from 67 to nearly 80 percent, on average. As of 2010, U.S. women ranked 17th in LFPR out of these 22 countries.
Unlike the United States, many other of those countries have enacted an array of policies designed to facilitate women's participation in the labor force, and such policies have expanded on average over the last 20 years relative to those of the United States. In Female Labor Supply: Why is the U.S. Falling Behind? (NBER Working Paper No. 18702), authors Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn study the role of such policies in explaining the decline in U.S. women's relative position in labor force participation internationally. They also discuss some possible unintended side effects of these policies, including a reliance on part-time employment for women and lower female representation in high-level positions. National Bureau of Economic Research