Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 5–27 | Cite as

Political regimes and the family: how sex-role attitudes continue to differ in reunified Germany

  • Stefan Bauernschuster
  • Helmut RainerEmail author
Original Paper


We exploit the German separation and later reunification to investigate whether political regimes can shape attitudes about appropriate roles for women in the family and the labor market. During the divided years, East German institutions encouraged female employment, while the West German system deterred women, in particular mothers, from full-time employment. Our results show that East Germans are significantly more likely to hold egalitarian sex-role attitudes than West Germans. Despite a scenario of partial policy convergence after reunification, we find no evidence for a convergence process in gender attitudes. Indeed, if anything, the gap in attitudes rather increased.


Political regimes Gender-role attitudes German reunification 

JEL Classification

J13 J16 



We are indebted to the responsible editor, Junsen Zhang, and two anonymous referees for helpful comments and suggestions.


  1. Alesina A, Fuchs-Schündeln N (2007) Good-bye Lenin (or not?): the effect of communism on people’s preferences. Am Econ Rev 97(4):1507–1528CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bauernschuster S, Falck O, Gold R, Heblich S (2009) The shadows of the past: implicit institutions and entrepreneurship. MimeoGoogle Scholar
  3. Becker SO, Wössmann L (2009) Was Weber wrong? A human capital theory of protestant economic history. Q J Econ 124(2):531–596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Engelhardt H, Trappe H, Dronkers J (2002) Differences in family policy and the intergenerational transmission of divorce: a comparison between the former East and West Germany. Demogr Res 6(1):295–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fernandez R, Fogli A (2009) Culture: an empirical investigation of beliefs, work, and fertility. American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics 1(1):146–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fernandez R, Fogli A, Olivetti C (2004) Mothers and sons: preference formation and female force dynamics. Q J Econ 119(4):1249–1299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fortin NM (2005) Gender role attitudes and the labour-market outcomes of women across OECD countries. Oxf Rev Econ Policy 21(3):416–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Huinink J, Solga H (2007) Occupational opportunities in the GDR: a privilege of the older generations. Z Soziol 23(3):237–253Google Scholar
  9. Kawaguchi D, Miyazaki J (2009) Working mothers and sons’ preferences regarding female labor supply: direct evidence from stated preferences. J Popul Econ 22(1):115–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kohara M (2010) The response of Japanese wives’ labor supply to husbands’ job loss. J Popul Econ 23(4):1133–1149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Rainer H, Siedler T (2009) Does democracy foster trust? J Comp Econ 37(2):251–269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Rosenfeld RA, Trappe H, Gornick JC (2004) Gender and work in Germany: before and after reunification. Annu Rev Sociology 30:103–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Schäfgen K (1998) Die verdoppelung der ungleichheit. Sozialstruktur und geschlechterverhältnisse in der bundesrepublik und in der DDR. Ph.D. dissertation, Humboldt-UniversitätGoogle Scholar
  14. Statistisches Reichsamt (1936) Statistisches jahrbuch für das deutsche reich. Available online:
  15. Terwey M, Baltzer S (2009) Datenhandbuch ALLBUS 1980–2008. GESIS, Cologne MannheimGoogle Scholar
  16. Thornton A, Alwin DF, Camburn D (1983) Causes and consequences of sex-role attitudes and attitude change. Am Sociol Rev 48(2):211–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Trappe H (1996) Work and family in women’s lives in the German Democratic Republic. Work Occup 23(4):354–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ifo Institute for Economic ResearchUniversity of MunichMunichGermany
  2. 2.CESifoMunichGermany

Personalised recommendations