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Working Moms, Childlessness, and Female Identity

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  • Steinhauer, Andreas

Abstract

In this paper I provide empirical evidence that the strength of beliefs regarding the harm children suffer when their mothers work plays an important role in explaining gender gaps in labor market outcomes and fertility trends. I exploit a unique setting in Switzerland and compare outcomes of one cohort of Swiss women born in the 1950s either into the French or German ethno-linguistic group. This allows me to compare outcomes of women exposed to different norms regarding working mothers while holding constant typical confounding factors such as composition, labor market opportunities, and work-family policies. Consistent with the strong belief that children suffer with working mothers in the German region, I find that German-born women are 15-25% less likely to work as mothers and 20-20% more likely to remain childless compared to their French-born peers. Only the extensive margins show marked differences and especially among the highly educated. I argue that an identity framework along the lines of Akerlof and Kranton (2000) can rationalize these patterns in a tractable way.

Suggested Citation

  • Steinhauer, Andreas, 2018. "Working Moms, Childlessness, and Female Identity," CEPR Discussion Papers 12929, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:12929
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Rainer Winkelmann & Lin Xu, 2019. "Testing the binomial fixed effects logit model; with an application to female labor supply," ECON - Working Papers 321, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Oct 2019.
    2. Roth, Anja, 2019. "How the provision of childcare affects attitudes towards maternal employment," Working papers 2019/22, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.

    More about this item

    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
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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