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Culture, Children and Couple Gender Inequality

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  • Jonas Jessen

Abstract

This paper examines how culture impacts within-couple gender inequality. Exploiting the setting of Germany's division and reunification, I compare child penalties of couples socialised in a more gender-egalitarian culture (East Germany) to those in a gender-traditional culture (West Germany). Using a household panel, I show that the long-run child penalty on the female income share is 26.9 percentage points in West German couples, compared to 15.5 in East German couples. I additionally show that among women in West Germany the arrival of a child leads to a greater increase in housework and a larger share of child care responsibilities than among women in the East. A battery of robustness checks confirms that differences between East and West socialised couples are not driven by current location, economic factors, day care availability or other smooth regional gradients. I add to the main findings by using time-use diary data from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and reunified Germany, comparing parents with childless couples of similar age. This provides a rare insight into gender inequality in the GDR and allows to compare the effect of children in the GDR to the effects in East and West Germany after reunification. Lastly, I show that attitudes towards maternal employment are more egalitarian among East Germans, but that the arrival of children leads to more traditional attitudes for both East and West Germans. The findings confirm that socialisation has a strong impact on child penalties and thus on gender inequality as a whole.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonas Jessen, 2021. "Culture, Children and Couple Gender Inequality," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1957, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1957
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    Cited by:

    1. Virginia Sondergeld & Katharina Wrohlich, 2023. "Women in management and the gender pay gap," CEPA Discussion Papers 66, Center for Economic Policy Analysis.
    2. Jonas Jessen & Sophia Schmitz & Felix Weinhardt, 2022. "Immigration, Female Labour Supply and Local Cultural Norms," Berlin School of Economics Discussion Papers 0001, Berlin School of Economics.
    3. Giesing, Yvonne & Kauder, Björn & Mergele, Lukas & Potrafke, Niklas & Poutvaara, Panu, 2024. "Moving Out of the Comfort Zone: How Cultural Norms Affect Attitudes toward Immigration," IZA Discussion Papers 16833, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Jessen, Jonas & Schweighofer-Kodritsch, Sebastian & Weinhardt, Felix & Berkes, Jan, 2023. "Separate Housework Spheres," VfS Annual Conference 2023 (Regensburg): Growth and the "sociale Frage" 277659, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    5. Mathias Huebener & Jonas Jessen & Daniel Kuehnle & Michael Oberfichtner, 2022. "Parental Leave, Worker Substitutability, and Firms' Employment," Berlin School of Economics Discussion Papers 0007, Berlin School of Economics.
    6. Barschkett, Mara & Spieß, C. Katharina & Ziege, Elena, 2021. "Does Grandparenting Pay off for the Next Generations? Intergenerational Effects of Grandparental Care," IZA Discussion Papers 14795, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Mattis Beckmannshagen & Rick Glaubitz, 2023. "Is There a Desired Added Worker Effect?: Evidence from Involuntary Job Losses," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1200, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    cultural norms; gender inequality; child penalty;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior

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