Parenthood and Inequality in the Family and the Labour Market. A Comparison of East and West Germany

Research question/goal: 

The study investigated individual dynamics in time allocation and earnings triggered by the transition to parenthood in Germany. Our analyses built mainly on longitudinal survey data from the Socio-Economic Panel 1985-2007 and the use of fixed effects models to capture unobserved differences between parents and non-parents. In a first step, we looked at the effect of childbirth on the long-term division of labour within couples. In particular, the focus was on differences in the effect of having children by couples’ relative resources to investigate whether economic incentives have an impact on dynamics in men’s and women’s time use across the transition to parenthood. The second part of the study examined the mechanisms underlying the wage penalty for motherhood in Germany. Our models for the first time included women’s self-reported time in housework and childcare during a workday, which made it possible to test explanations of the wage penalty that argue that mothers’ family responsibilities hamper their productivity. An additional methodological analysis using data from a small local telephone survey conducted by students of the University of Mannheim in 2005 looked at response bias in the self-reported division of labour in the home in connection with the gender of the interviewer. The main findings were that couples turn to a more traditional division of labour in which women further increase their unpaid domestic work at the cost of time in market work after having children, regardless of economic incentives given by their resource constellation. Further, domestic work is an important contributing factor to mothers’ wage disadvantages relative to childless women. We also found evidence that the gender of the interviewer in telephone surveys has an influence on men’s self-reports regarding the division of labour in the home.

Fact sheet

2009 to 2011
Data Sources: 
German Socio-Economic Panel
Geographic Space: