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From Politics to the Family: How Sex-Role Attitudes Keep on Diverging in Reunified Germany

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  • Stefan Bauernschuster
  • Helmut Rainer

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Abstract

What is the role of politics in shaping attitudes about appropriate roles for women in the family and the compatibility of work and motherhood? In this paper we argue that the German separation and later reunification produced a natural experiment to address this question. During the divided years, East German institutions encouraged high levels of full-time employment for women, including mothers. The West German system by contrast deterred women in general, and mothers in particular, from full-time employment. After reunification, family-related policies largely converged in the two Germanies. Against this background, we empirically investigate gender-role attitudes in reunified Germany. Our results show that East Germans are significantly more likely to hold egalitarian or nontraditional sex-role attitudes than West Germans. Despite a scenario of partial policy convergence, we also find evidence that the gap between East and West German gender role attitudes more than doubled in the years after reunification. We suggest that one explanation for this divergence could be found in the notion of social identity.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2957.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2957

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Keywords: political regimes; gender role attitudes;

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  1. Rainer, Helmut & Siedler, Thomas, 2009. "Does democracy foster trust?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 251-269, June.
  2. Alessandra Fogli & Raquel Fernandez, 2009. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 146-77, January.
  3. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli & Claudia Olivetti, 2004. "Mothers and Sons: Preference Formation and Female Labor Force Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1249-1299, November.
  4. Nicole M Fortin, 2005. "Gender Role Attitudes and the Labour-market Outcomes of Women across OECD Countries," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 416-438, Autumn.
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Cited by:
  1. Rainald Borck, 2011. "Adieu Rabenmutter - The Effect of Culture on Fertility, Female Labour Supply, the Gender Wage Gap and Childcare," CESifo Working Paper Series 3337, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Ehing, Daniel, 2013. "Unter- und Überbeschäftigung in Deutschland: Eine Analyse wesentlicher Einflussfaktoren auf die Unterbeschäftigung in Teilzeit," FZG Discussion Papers 53, Research Center for Generational Contracts (FZG), University of Freiburg.

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