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Economic Relations between Women and Their Partners: An East and West German Comparison after Reunification

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Heike Trappe, Annemette Soerensen

In: Feminist Economics 12 (2006), 4, S. 643-665


This article compares women's and men's economic relations in East and West Germany following the 1990 reunification to exemplify the impact of varying opportunity structures on women's relative contribution to family income. West Germany's takeover set in motion a rapid transformation of East German institutions and employment structures. The analysis shows that women in West Germany became less dependent on their partners in the 1990s, largely because fewer women were housewives without earnings. In contrast, the contributions of women to the family economy in East Germany fell between 1990 and 1996. Afterwards, women in East Germany regained some of their economic power because of their partners' increasing difficulties sustaining employment. A multivariate analysis showed that the fact that women in West Germany were more likely to work less or not at all - especially if they were married or had children - accounted for much of the difference.