What explains the rising share of U.S. men in registered nursing?

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Elizabeth Munnich, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Louisville
Abigail Wozniak, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame


This paper documents four decades of increasing participation in registered nursing among US men and explores reasons for this change. We find that a large component of the increase is due to men switching into nursing in their twenties and early thirties. Increasing educational attainment, rising labor demand in healthcare, and liberalizing gender role attitudes explain around 50 percent of the growth. Important countervailing factors include poor early labor market conditions and immigrant inflows, both of which are associated with less movement into nursing by men. We discuss the implications of our findings for policies to encourage men to take up high growth, nontraditional skilled jobs.

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