Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Katharine M. Donato


In this dissertation, I examine trends in production and the concomitant demographic transformation of the labor force, in the context a series of economic cycles since 1969. Using these three forces as a backdrop, I first consider changes in employment hardship and the forces contributing to underemployment during periods following economic recessions. Then, I examine differences between men and women for employment outcomes. Next, to explain hardship during these periods, I include important demographic and geographic factors related to underemployment. Finally, I examine the impact of labor market context on individual outcomes. Based on the transformation of work, I explain changes in employment inequality and how these changes affect men and women. Using data from four time periods following recessions since 1971, I compute a series of logistic regression analyses to estimate the effect of time period of employment hardship. Then I examine period effects again, while controlling for theoretically meaningful correlates of marginal employment. Next, I compare chances of being in a low quality job versus being unemployed. Finally, I estimate multilevel models, controlling for labor market qualities related to employment. Findings from these models suggest that marginal employment has become institutionalized for men and women by the early 1990s. In addition, although the effect of period was different by sex in circa 1978 and 1988, by the final time period, men and women were comparable in the effect of period on marginal employment. Results from multi-level models show that although both sexes receive similar returns for individual level attributes, women are worse off in labor markets with high levels of occupational sex-segregation.