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The Making of a Good Woman: Extended Parental Leave Entitlements and Mothers’ Work Commitment in Germany

Markus Gangl and Andrea Ziefle
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 121, No. 2 (September 2015), pp. 511-563
DOI: 10.1086/682419
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/682419
Page Count: 53
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The Making of a Good Woman: Extended Parental Leave Entitlements and Mothers’ Work Commitment in Germany
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Abstract

The authors investigate the relationship between family policy and women’s attachment to the labor market, focusing specifically on policy feedback on women’s subjective work commitment. They utilize a quasi-experimental design to identify normative policy effects from changes in mothers’ work commitment in conjunction with two policy changes that significantly extended the length of statutory parental leave entitlements in Germany. Using unique survey data from the German Socio-Economic Panel and difference-in-differences, triple-differenced, and instrumental variables estimators for panel data, they obtain consistent empirical evidence that increasing generosity of leave entitlements led to a decline in mothers’ work commitment in both East and West Germany. They also probe potential mediating mechanisms and find strong evidence for role exposure and norm setting effects. Finally, they demonstrate that policy-induced shifts in mothers’ preferences have contributed to retarding women’s labor force participation after childbirth in Germany, especially as far as mothers’ return to full-time employment is concerned.

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