Social Indicators Research

, Volume 116, Issue 2, pp 593–610 | Cite as

Do Values Matter? The Impact of Work Ethic and Traditional Gender Role Values on Female Labour Market Supply

  • Kirsten StamEmail author
  • Ellen Verbakel
  • Paul M. de Graaf


This article aims to gain a better understanding of the explanatory value of work ethic and traditional gender role values with regard to variation in female labour market supply. Although women’s labour market participation has increased dramatically over the past decades, it still lacks behind that of men. A high female participation rate is desirable for several reasons, for instance to cover rising costs due to the ageing of society. The existing literature has mostly focused on micro-economic and macro factors to explain differences between women in participation rate. However, more recently it has been argued that women’s values may also play an important role in women’s labour market decisions. Work ethic, expressing the moral duty to work in terms of paid employment, is argued to positively affect women’s labour supply. However, it is argued that it can have negative implications too if women who hold more traditional gender role values interpret work and work ethic in terms of housework or in terms of paid employment for men only. This exemplifies the need to study both values at the same time. We used longitudinal Dutch data (LISS panel, 2007–2010) and estimated both cross-sectional and longitudinal models. Both types of models revealed a similar pattern: work ethic is positively associated with women’s labour market participation, but only if we take into account women’s gender role values, which negatively relate to women’s labour market supply.


Event history analyses Female labour market supply Traditional gender roles Work ethic 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kirsten Stam
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ellen Verbakel
    • 2
  • Paul M. de Graaf
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Sociology/ICSRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

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