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January 31, 2024

Cluster-Seminar Public Finances and Living Conditions

The Persistence of Employment Gaps in Couples: To what extent do relative female-to-male wage opportunities matter?


January 31, 2024
11:00 bis 12:00 Uhr


Karl Popper Room
DIW Berlin
Room 2.3.020
Mohrenstr. 58
10117 Berlin


Luisa Hammer

Gender gaps in employment have narrowed but remain substantial, especially within couples. When I proxy potential earnings through demand-driven wage changes in job tasks within industries and using German administrative data, I show that a rising relative female-to-male potential wage increases work hours of female partners, but at a diminishing rate. Men, on the other hand, reduce their work hours, but only at low levels of the relative wage. In sum, this means that the within-couple gap in work hours widens significantly as the earnings prospects of women relative to men improve. I then discuss potential drivers for these puzzling results and focus on economic incentives of Becker’s household model, comparative advantages and gender identity norms.