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Women's labor force transitions in connection with childbirth: A panel data comparison between Germany, Sweden and Great Britain

Abstract

In this paper we make use of the panel aspects of the German GSOEP, the Swedish HUS and the British BHPS data. In these data sets we known month and year of childbirth and the month to month labor force status of the mother also before giving birth. This permits analysis of labor force transitions triggered by child births of different birth orders. From macro data Swedish women are known to have the highest labor force participation. The difference in total labor force participation of women is totally a result of fewer mothers entering the labor force and entering later in Germany and Great Britain than in Sweden. This paper shows that before birth of first child there is no such difference. We find that German and British women have even higher full-time labor force participation than Swedish women 12 months before the birth of the first child. The difference is more pronounced for second and third births than for first births. We suggest that these differences are caused by different family policy regimes where Germany can be characterized as a breadwinner regime and Sweden a regime oriented towards equal role sharing of father and mother. Our results on determinants of being in the labor force both after and before the birth of a child as well as determinants of the tempo of entering the labor force after birth shows that women's own human capital is important both in Germany and Great Britain, whereas in Sweden also less educated women have entered the labor force by the time the child is 2 years old.

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All correspondence to Cécile Wetzels. We are grateful to Andrew McCulloch from ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change in Britain, who delivered the British BHPS-data. We also want to thank John F. Ermisch, Siv Gustafsson, Diane Sainsbury and two anonymous referees for useful comments. Financial support has been received by the Swedish Council in the Humanities and Social Sciences and the EU Human Capital and Mobility (HCM) network for the Female Labour Force Participation Network within which framework this analysis has been carried out. Responsible editors: S. S. Gustafsson, John R Ermisch.

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Gustafsson, S.S., Wetzels, C.M.M.P., Vlasblom, J.D. et al. Women's labor force transitions in connection with childbirth: A panel data comparison between Germany, Sweden and Great Britain. J Popul Econ 9, 223–246 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00176686

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00176686

Keywords

  • Labor Force
  • Labor Force Participation
  • Birth Order
  • Family Policy
  • Swedish Woman