Black Death lesson: immigration will discourage women from working

“The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague” by Dorsey Armstrong, a professor at Purdue, includes a great lecture on economics. One of the effects of a reduction in population was a rise in wages. Market-clearing wages turned out to be high enough to induce women to work in much larger numbers than previously. This, in turn, was one reason it took hundreds of years for the European population to return to pre-Plague levels. Working women would elect to delay having children and would have fewer total children.

Via immigration and children of recent immigrants, the U.S. has been expanding its population, the reverse of what happened during the Black Death. Simultaneously, Americans are decrying (a) stagnant wages for the working class, (b) the lack of women in the workforce, and (c) the wages paid, specifically, to those who identify as women. (One definite difference between the Middle Ages and today is the percentage of the population that can qualify to be placed in the “women” category!)

3 thoughts on “Black Death lesson: immigration will discourage women from working

  1. Rising female workforce participation during a time of rising wages is an interesting phenomenon. In US, they always drop out when the economy is good, because a man’s income is enough to do the job. They would have needed enough of a shortage of workers to impact survival, like during WWII. Is US at risk of starving without immigrants to come in & harvest food? Probably not, so it’s not going to be enlisting women in the workforce, no matter who is in office.

    • The real (i.e. purchasing-power parity) wages in US haven’t been rising since late 70s. Before that time the wealth disparity was diminishing, after that it started ti skyrocket.

      Curiously, that was the time US went off gold standard thus ushering in the era of easy (i.e. easily printed) money and financialization (aka massive transfer of wealth from productive middle class to financial/corporate “elite”). But move on, there’s nothing to see there, you cannot eat gold, it’s an outdated relic having no place in the modern world. And women work because Girl Power!(tm) – don’t even for a second think it’s to make the ends meet. This kind of talk gets one canceled by SJWs (aka useless idiots).

    • lion2, averros: It is tough to compare female labor force participation in the U.S. today versus 1970 due to changes in family law that change the incentives for women. links to some research about how guaranteed family court profits induce women to exit the labor force (i.e., women dropped out of the labor force when favorable no-fault divorce laws were introduced state by state).

      Consider that a woman who has sex with a radiologist here in Massachusetts will earn more, after tax, than if she’d gone to medical school and worked full time as a primary care doctor. See

      So the U.S. does not present a clean data set due to the increased financial returns to having sex with the right partner.

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