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To isolate the mobilization-induced labor supply shift, the authors exploit the fact that the fraction of males serving in the war was not uniform across states. For example, in Massachusetts, Oregon, and Utah, almost 55 percent of males between the ages of 18 and 44 left civilian work to serve in the war. In Georgia, the Dakotas, and the Carolinas, this number ranged between 40 and 45 percent. The state differences in war mobilization actually reflect a variety of factors. The Selective Services guidelines for deferments were based on marital status, fatherhood, essential skills for civilian war production, and temporary medical disabilities, but left considerable discretion to the local boards. Because of the importance of maintaining a strong food supply to support the war, an important consideration for deferment was farm employment.
States with a high percentage of farmers had substantially lower mobilization rates, and this explains a considerable share of the state variation in mobilization rates.
The authors show that in states with greater war mobilization of men, women worked more after the war and in 1950, but not in 1940. This differential does not appear to be explained by other cross-state differences or possible demand factors, and is not present in the 1940 data nor does a similar trend recur in the decade of the 1950s. The authors interpret these differentials as labor supply shifts induced by the War. Acemoglu, Autor, and Lyle believe these cross-state changes in female employment were caused by greater participation of women during the war years, with some of those women staying on. War changed womens preferences, opportunities, and information about available work.