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Madison Arnsbarger

  • Labor Economics, Political Economy, Economic History
Representative Publications

Job Market Paper: The Political Economy of Women's Suffrage and World War I

Abstract: After nearly a century of activism, American women won suffrage rights within one month of WWI’s close with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. Wartime mobilization drew thousands of women into traditionally male-dominated industries, altering society’s view on the suitability of women in the workplace and public sphere. This paper studies the effect of women’s labor force participation (LFP) during WWI on political support for the Nineteenth Amendment. I introduce newly-digitized data charting the allocation of women’s labor across war-related industries throughout WWI to show that a 1 S.D. increase in women’s LFP from 1910-20 was associated with a 14-30pp increase in the probability that a congressman supported the Nineteenth Amendment. I implement two identification strategies, difference-in-differences and shift-share instrumental variables, to verify the causality of this relationship. My findings imply that LFP and civic engagement are complements, and that market labor may offer means to widened political rights.

Working Paper: Working Against Booze: How the Civil War Raised Women's Labor Force and Political Participation

Abstract: After the U.S. Civil War (1861-65), women mobilized politically for the first time as the temperance movement gained traction across the United States. Historians suggest women’s accelerated involvement in the political sphere may have been rooted in elevated rates of domestic violence and unemployment due to Civil War veterans’ use of alcohol to cope with the physical and psychological battle wounds. This paper uses randomness in battle intensity to identify the causal effect of Civil War veteran disability on women’s labor force participation and temperance activism. Our results indicate that a wife or daughter of a disabled veteran was up to 20\% more likely to be in the labor force in 1880 relative to wives and daughters of veterans who exited the Union Army regularly. Counties with high disability rates were also more likely to establish a chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union within a decade of the organization’s establishment. Our findings imply that women’s early political mobilization and labor force participation were important legacies of the Civil War.