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

Author

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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefan Bauernschuster & Helmut Rainer, 2010. "From Politics to the Family: How Sex-Role Attitudes Keep on Diverging in Reunified Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 2957, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2957
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp2957.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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 146-177, January.
    3. 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.
    4. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli & Claudia Olivetti, 2004. "Mothers and Sons: Preference Formation and Female Labor Force Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1249-1299.
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    Cited by:

    1. Erbe, Katharina, 2015. "Different Reference Points: Tax Planning of Married Couples in East and West Germany," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113155, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Ehing, Daniel, 2013. "Unter- und Überbeschäftigung in Deutschland: Eine Analyse wesentlicher Einflussfaktoren auf die Unterbeschäftigung in Teilzeit," FZG Discussion Papers 53, University of Freiburg, Research Center for Generational Contracts (FZG).
    3. Erbe, Katharina, 2015. "Tax planning of married couples in East and West Germany," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 08/2015, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    4. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    political regimes; gender role attitudes;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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