Economic instability and mothers’ employment: A comparison of Germany and the U.S.

  • Do economic fluctuations change the labour market attachment of mothers? How is the reentry process into the labour market after childbirth dependent on the country context women live in? Are these processes affected by occupational status? We address these questions using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth and the German Life History Study. Event history analyses demonstrate that in Germany and the United States, mothers who work in high occupational status jobs before birth return more quickly to their jobs and are less likely to interrupt their careers. During legally protected leave periods, mothers return at higher rates, exemplifying that family leaves strengthen mothers’ labour force attachment. Economic fluctuations mediate this latter finding, with different consequences in each country. In the United States, mothers tend to return to their jobs faster when unemployment is high. In Germany, mothers on family leave tend to return to their jobs later when unemployment is high. The cross-national comparison shows how similar market forces create distinct responses in balancing work and care.

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Author:Daniela GrunowORCiDGND, Silke Aisenbrey
Parent Title (English):Advances in life course research
Place of publication:Amsterdam [u. a.]
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2015
Date of first Publication:2015/11/03
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2020/04/27
Tag:Employment career; Event history analysis; International comparison; Life course; Mothers
Page Number:11
First Page:5
Last Page:15
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Institutes:Gesellschaftswissenschaften / Gesellschaftswissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 30 Sozialwissenschaften, Soziologie / 300 Sozialwissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Nicht kommerziell - Keine Bearbeitung 4.0