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In this paper, we analyze the paid labor force participation rates and continuity patterns of rural farm, rural nonfarm, and urban women. Specifically, we trace the labor force participation of a panel of approximately 800 women in Nebraska from 1977 to 1985. This paper has a twofold purpose. First, we examine changes in the work status of the cohort of Nebraska women during the farm crisis years. Second, we identify individual factors influencing labor force participation and continuity, contrasting all three residential groups of women.
A loglinear model isolates differences in participation rates for rural and urban women as well as for rural farm and rural nonfarm women during the 1977, 198 1, and 1985 panel years. A discriminant analysis then ascertains the nonlinear relationships in women's work histories for the same time period. A comparison of continuous, discontinuous, and nonparticipatory labor force patterns illustrates that rural women, and farm women in particular, entered the wage labor force in disproportionate numbers during the farm crisis years. The farm crisis provides a framework for discussing accelerated participation rates and changes in the effects of individual human capital characteristics. Increases in participation rates are most evident among married farm women with discontinuous parttime work histories. Over the three data points, the effect of preschool children on labor work force participation was attenuated for farm women and higher education levels became less salient in predicting labor force participation rates for both rural and urban women.