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Women and work: what role do social norms play?


  • Tolciu, Andreia
  • Zierahn, Ulrich


Against the background of the current economic research which concentrates particularly on individual and structural factors, this paper examines if and to what extent social norms (in terms of attitudes towards gender roles and work commitment) can make a complementary statement in explaining women's employment status. The impact is presumed to be enhanced through norms shared by people belonging to the same households, peer groups, and by residents of the same region. The analysis relies on a rich German dataset and employs a zero inflated negative binomial model. The results highlight, among other things, the importance of 'relevant others' in explaining women's employment status.

Suggested Citation

  • Tolciu, Andreia & Zierahn, Ulrich, 2010. "Women and work: what role do social norms play?," HWWI Research Papers 1-30, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:hwwirp:1-30

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Siobhan Austen, 2003. "Culture and the Labour Market," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 3018.
    2. Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc, 2006. "Job Protection: The Macho Hypothesis," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 390-410, Autumn.
    3. Daiji Kawaguchi & Junko Miyazaki, 2009. "Working mothers and sons’ preferences regarding female labor supply: direct evidence from stated preferences," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(1), pages 115-130, January.
    4. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Mehmet Yorukoglu, 2005. "Engines of Liberation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 109-133.
    5. 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.
    6. Veronika Eberharter, 2003. "Structural Features of Female Employment Status and Earnings Mobility: The Experience in Germany," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 61(4), pages 511-533.
    7. 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.
    8. Andreia Tolciu, 2010. "The Economics of Social Interactions: An Interdisciplinary Ground for Social Scientists?," Forum for Social Economics, Springer;The Association for Social Economics, vol. 39(3), pages 223-242, October.
    9. Christopher F Baum, 2006. "An Introduction to Modern Econometrics using Stata," Stata Press books, StataCorp LP, number imeus, December.
    10. M. Ruth & K. Donaghy & P. Kirshen, 2006. "Introduction," Chapters,in: Regional Climate Change and Variability, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Adriaan S. Kalwij, 2000. "The effects of female employment status on the presence and number of children," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 13(2), pages 221-239.
    12. Tomas Frejka & Tomáš Sobotka & Jan M. Hoem & Laurent Toulemon, 2008. "Summary and general conclusions: Childbearing Trends and Policies in Europe," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(2), pages 5-14, July.
    13. 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. Anja Köbrich León, 2013. "Does Cultural Heritage Affect Employment Decisions: Empirical Evidence for First- and Second Generation Immigrants in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 553, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Anja Koebrich Leon, 2013. "Does Cultural Heritage affect Employment decisions – Empirical Evidence for Second Generation Immigrants in Germany," Working Paper Series in Economics 270, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.

    More about this item


    women's employment status; households and families; social norms; probit model with sample selection;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • C35 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure


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