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Culture, Children and Couple Gender Inequality

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Jonas Jessen

In: European Economic Review 150 (2022), 104310, 18 S.


This paper examines how culture impacts within-couple gender inequality. Exploiting thesetting of Germany’s division and reunification, I compare child penalties of East Germans whowere socialised in a more gender egalitarian culture to West Germans socialised in a gendertraditionalculture. Using a household panel, I show that the long-run child penalty on thefemale income share is 23.9 percentage points for West German couples, compared to 12.9 forEast German couples. The arrival of children also leads to a greater increase in the female shareof housework and child care for West Germans. I add to the main findings by using time-usediary data from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and reunified Germany, which providesa rare insight into gender inequality in the GDR and allows me to compare the effect of havingchildren in the GDR to the effects in East and West Germany after reunification. Lastly, I showthat attitudes towards maternal employment are more egalitarian among East Germans, butthat the arrival of children leads to more traditional attitudes for both East and West Germans.The findings confirm that socialisation has a strong impact on child penalties and that familypolicies may have an impact on gender inequality through social learning in the long run.

JEL-Classification: J16;J22;D1
Keywords: Cultural norms, gender inequality, child penalty