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16. Juli 2024

Cluster-Seminar Öffentliche Finanzen und Lebenslagen

The Judge in the Marriage Bed: The Modernization of the Swiss Marital Law and Female Labour Force Participation


16. Juli 2024
11:00 to 12:00


Joan Robinson Room
DIW Berlin
Room 3.3.002a
Mohrenstraße 58
10117 Berlin


Lea Weigand, University of Zurich

This paper analyses the impact of the modernization of the Swiss marital law in the 1980s on married women's labour force participation in Switzerland. The reform of the law comprised multiple measures to foster the equality between husband and wife within the marriage. The Swiss people voted on the reform in a referendum in 1985, accepting the new marital law. Hence at the time of the vote, it was revealed that the Swiss people hold more liberal attitudes than those represented by the old version of the law. The new marriage law was then implemented in 1988. For our analyses, we classify municipalities into conservative and liberal municipalities depending on the referendum voting results in the municipality. Overall, we find that from 1988 on, i.e., after the new marital law has been implemented, married women in conservative municipalities are catching up with married women in liberal municipalities in terms of labour force participation in the first year after getting married. We do not see a strong response of married women's employment in conservative relative to liberal municipalities between 1985 and 1988, i.e., after the referendum revealed relatively more liberal national norms of the Swiss people than what has been represented by the old marital law but prior to the law change.

joint work with Andrea Hofer and Ursina Schaede.


Mia Teschner
Mia Teschner

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin in der Abteilung Staat