In the past (say before 1950), labor force participation was quite low (relative to today) by virtue of large family sizes and most married women not working. However, when they were at-home, these married women produced something. That something was simply not included in our national accounts. When they entered the labor force, they produced less of that something. However, since it had never been measured, we never subtracted that something from the actual output generated from their increased participation.I think this is an important point. The homemakers of my youth were considered unemployed by the government, but they made all kinds of stuff. Besides cooking and cleaning they sewed clothes, raised vegetables, tended sick children, and more. Consider: if you clean your own house, that doesn't show up in economic statistics, but hiring a maid does. Nothing is being produced that wasn't there before, but the GDP has grown. Plus recent economic growth has been accompanied by millions of people leaving the countryside for the cities, and city people have fewer opportunities for off-the-books production like gardening and home canning.
Economist Vincent Geloso finds that accounting for the loss of household production reduces 19th- and 20th-century economic growth by a substantial amount. But his numbers are just guesses, no matter how much effort people put into them; we just don't have any rigorous way to value things for which people don't get paid. Geloso thinks this is important because if you make that correction the "glorious decades" of postwar economic growth are less glorious, and the slow growth of our own period less strange.