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Do Women in Highly Qualified Positions Face Higher Work-to-Family Conflicts in Germany Than Men?


  • Busch-Heizmann, Anne

    () (University of Duisburg-Essen)

  • Holst, Elke

    () (DIW Berlin)


Changing employment conditions lead to new chances, but also new risks for employees. In the literature, increasing permeability between occupational and private life is discussed as one special outcome of this development that employees must face, especially those in highly qualified positions. Drawing on existing research, we investigate in how far women and men in those positions differ in their perceived work-to-family conflicts (WFC), considering the mediating role of gender specific job opportunities. Referring conflicting theoretical arguments, we hypothesize that in Germany – as a conservative welfare state – women, especially those with family responsibilities, will perceive higher WFC than men in those positions. Our analysis is based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP). Using the Siegrist instrument on effort-reward imbalance we find that women in highly qualified positions perceive higher WFC than men. This association is explained by women's lower willingness to take risks, and also party explained by lower job rewards women receive. It gets visible even more strongly if women's lower time-based burdens in the job are controlled for. Mixed results are observed concerning associations between family responsibilities and WFC, which is in line with ambivalent results in the literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Busch-Heizmann, Anne & Holst, Elke, 2017. "Do Women in Highly Qualified Positions Face Higher Work-to-Family Conflicts in Germany Than Men?," IZA Discussion Papers 10716, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10716

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Simon Fietze & Elke Holst & Verena Tobsch, 2011. "Germany’s Next Top Manager: Does Personality Explain the Gender Career Gap?," management revue. Socio-economic Studies, Rainer Hampp Verlag, vol. 22(3), pages 240-273.
    2. Cullati, Stéphane, 2014. "The influence of work-family conflict trajectories on self-rated health trajectories in Switzerland: A life course approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 23-33.
    3. Marianne Bertrand & Emir Kamenica & Jessica Pan, 2015. "Gender Identity and Relative Income within Households," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(2), pages 571-614.
    4. Michael White & Stephen Hill & Patrick McGovern & Colin Mills & Deborah Smeaton, 2003. "'High-performance' Management Practices, Working Hours and Work-Life Balance," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 41(2), pages 175-195, June.
    5. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-838, May.
    6. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
    7. Frances McGinnity & Emma Calvert, 2009. "Work-Life Conflict and Social Inequality in Western Europe," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 93(3), pages 489-508, September.
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    More about this item


    work-to-family conflict; highly qualified positions; managers; gender; SOEP;

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • B54 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Feminist Economics
    • M1 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration

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