Direkt zum Inhalt

Gender Identity and Wives’ Labor Market Outcomes in West and East Germany between 1983 and 2016

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Maximilian Sprengholz, Anna Wieber, Elke Holst

In: Socio-Economic Review 20 (2022), 1, S. 257-279


We exploit the natural experiment of German reunification in 1990 to investigate if the institutional regimes of the formerly socialist (rather gender-equal) East Germany and the capitalist (rather gender-traditional) West Germany resulted in differing gender norms regarding who should be the family breadwinner. We use data for three periods between 1983 and 2016 from the German Socio-Economic Panel. Density discontinuity tests and fixed-effects regressions suggest that married couples in West (but not East) Germany diminished the wife’s labor market outcomes in order to avoid situations where she would earn more than him. However, the significance of the male breadwinner norm seems to decline in West Germany since reunification, converging to the more gender egalitarian East Germany. Our work provides evidence that political and institutional frameworks can shape fairly persistent gender identity norms that influence household economic decisions for some time, even when these frameworks change.

Keywords: Gender, identity, institutions, family economics, Germany