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Social Norms and the Labour Market Integration of Women: Three Lessons Learnt from German Women Since World War II

Boelmann, Barbara; (2022) Social Norms and the Labour Market Integration of Women: Three Lessons Learnt from German Women Since World War II. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

In light of persistent gender inequality on the labour market, I investigate how social norms affect women’s labour market integration along two dimen- sions: through reduced labour supply upon the arrival of children and through constraints on geographic mobility. I first look at the persistence and change of gender norms around the time of childbirth. To that end, I explore the setting of the German reunification. East Germany, a state socialist country, encouraged mothers to participate in the labour market full-time, whereas West Germany propagated a male breadwinner-model. Zooming in on East and West Germans who migrated across the former inner-German border, I document a strong asymmetry in the persistence of the culture in which women were raised. Whereas East German female migrants return to work earlier and work longer hours after childbirth than their West German colleagues, West German migrants adjust their post-birth labour supply nearly entirely to that of their East German colleagues. West German return migrants continue to be influenced by the East German norm even after their return to the West, pointing towards the importance of learning from peers. Second, taking advantage of differential inflows of East German migrants across West German workplaces after reunification, I show that even a partial exposure to East German colleagues induces local mothers to accelerate their return to work after childbirth, suggesting that migration might be a catalyst for cultural change. Third, turning towards public policy, I document that women’s higher education in the 1960s in West Germany was severely restricted by mobility barriers, whereas men’s was not. Exploiting the German university expansion which brought universities to places where there were none before, I show that women benefited from a local university twice as much as men, indicating that creating local opportunities can be a meaningful way to promote gender equality.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Social Norms and the Labour Market Integration of Women: Three Lessons Learnt from German Women Since World War II
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2022. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Economics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10142333
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