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Differences in female labor force participation in East and West Germany: Socialist legacy and pre-socialist tradition


  • Wyrwich, Michael


This paper investigates the sources of the significantly higher labor force participation of East Ger-man women as compared to their peers in West Germany. The previous literature attributes this to a legacy of socialist labor market policies. This study challenges this hypothesis and demonstrates that the share of women in the labor market across regions that were exposed to the socialist regime was already higher before German division and the introduction of socialist labor market policies. Furthermore, pre-socialist differences and regional conditions play a more important role than socialist legacy in explaining current regional differences in labor force participation of women and in shaping social acceptance of working women. The results suggest that labor market conditions and employment opportunities for women have been more or less not similar before German division. Furthermore, regional differences in current female labor force participation rates seem to be not predominantly shaped by socialist legacy.

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  • Wyrwich, Michael, 2015. "Differences in female labor force participation in East and West Germany: Socialist legacy and pre-socialist tradition," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113083, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc15:113083

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lynn Duggan, 1995. "Restacking the deck: Family policy and women's fall-back position in Germany before and after unification," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 175-194.
    2. Dora L. Costa, 2000. "From Mill Town to Board Room: The Rise of Women's Paid Labor," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 101-122, Fall.
    3. Lídia Farré & Francis Vella, 2013. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Gender Role Attitudes and its Implications for Female Labour Force Participation," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 80(318), pages 219-247, April.
    4. Claudia Goldin, 2006. "The Quiet Revolution That Transformed Women's Employment, Education, and Family," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 1-21, May.
    5. Alberto Alesina & Nicola Fuchs-Schundeln, 2005. "Good bye Lenin (or not?): The effect of Communism on people's preferences," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2076, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    6. Goldin, Claudia, 2006. "The Quiet Revolution That Transformed Women’s Employment, Education, and Family," Scholarly Articles 2943933, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    7. Wolf, Nikolaus, 2009. "Was Germany Ever United? Evidence from Intra- and International Trade, 1885–1933," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(3), pages 846-881, September.
    8. Stefan Bauernschuster & Helmut Rainer, 2012. "Political regimes and the family: how sex-role attitudes continue to differ in reunified Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(1), pages 5-27, January.
    9. Stefan Bauernschuster & Oliver Falck, 2015. "Culture, spatial diffusion of ideas and their long-lasting imprints—evidence from Froebel’s kindergarten movement," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 601-630.
    10. Brosig-Koch, Jeannette & Helbach, Christoph & Ockenfels, Axel & Weimann, Joachim, 2011. "Still different after all these years: Solidarity behavior in East and West Germany," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1373-1376.
    11. Alessandra Fogli & Laura Veldkamp, 2011. "Nature or Nurture? Learning and the Geography of Female Labor Force Participation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(4), pages 1103-1138, July.
    12. Tipton, Frank B., 1974. "Farm Labor and Power Politics: Germany, 1850–1914," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(4), pages 951-979, December.
    13. Maier, Friederike, 1993. "The Labour Market for Women and Employment Perspectives in the Aftermath of German Unification," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(3), pages 267-280, September.
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    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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