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The Intergenerational Transmission of Gender Norms: Why and How Adolescent Males with Working Mothers Matter for Female Labour Market Outcomes

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Sophia Schmitz, C. Katharina Spiess

In: Socio-Economic Review 20 (2022), 1, S. 281-322


Social norms are put forward as a prominent explanation for the changing labour supply decisions of women. This paper studies the intergenerational transmission of these norms, examining how they affect subsequent female labour supply decisions, taking into account not only the early socialization of women but also that of their partner. Using large representative panel data sets from West Germany, results suggest that women with partners who grew up with a working mother are more likely to participate in the labour force, work longer hours and earn higher labour income. The main contribution of our study is that we assess a variety of potential mechanisms for this intergenerational link. We find no evidence that this finding reflects assortative mating; rather, analysis suggests that the partner’s preferences are based on their experiences with the employment of their mothers and play a decisive role for the labour supply decision of partnered women. Moreover, we identify various effect heterogeneities, finding stronger associations for women with potentially less bargaining power. Our results suggest that policy measures supporting the labour force participation of today’s mothers will increase the female labour force participation of the next generation.