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The gender gap in labor market participation and employment: A cohort analysis for West Germany


Labor market participation rates of West German females have risen during the last decades, whereas participation rates of males have declined or remained stable. Nevertheless, differences in aggregate gender specific participation rates remain. The purpose of this paper is to compare life-cycle participation and employment profiles of West German males and females of different skill levels. Going beyond the descriptive cross tabulations of participation and employment rates by year, skill level, and sex, this paper uses a model which simultaneously takes into account the effects of time, age,␣and birth cohort membership. The estimation results allow for the construction and comparison of gender and skill specific life cycle participation and employment profiles. Even though the gap in average participation and employment rates has narrowed over time, the results confirm a␣persistent gender gap in the pattern of labor market participation and employment over the life-cycle.

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Correspondence to Bernd Fitzenberger.

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We are grateful for the comments of three anonymous referees and of the participants at the workshop on ‘‘Gender Differences in Earnings and Labour Market Participation in the U.K. and Germany’’ in January 2001 at the ZEW. The paper is part of the research project ‘‘Holen die Frauen auf? Ein Vergleich von Erwerbsverhalten, Beschäftigung und Verdiensten deutscher und britischer Frauen im Zeitverlauf’’ at the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW). We thank the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung for financial support and ZUMA in Mannheim for letting us use the German Microcensus. Responsible editor: Christoph M. Schmidt.

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Fitzenberger, B., Schnabel, R. & Wunderlich, G. The gender gap in labor market participation and employment: A cohort analysis for West Germany. J Popul Econ 17, 83–116 (2004).

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JEL classification

  • J16
  • J2
  • J71

Key words

  • Gender gap in employment and participation
  • cohort analysis