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Wind of Change

WiSo researcher on the influence of reunification on the labor supply behaviour of mothers

Even 30 years after reunification, mothers who grew up in East Germany are still taking up work again more quickly after the birth of a child and then work more hours than mothers who grew up in West Germany. This is shown by a comparison of the employment behaviour of East and West German mothers on both sides of the former inner-German border within the same commuting region.

The study published by the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) also makes it clear that West German mothers are more influenced by an East German environment than the other way round. The authors of the study, Barbara Boelmann from the WiSo Faculty of the University of Cologne, Uta Schönberg (IAB and University College London / UCL), and Anna Raute (Queen Mary University of London) analyse, among other things, the labor supply behaviour of women who have moved to the other side of the former inner-German border. They find a strong asymmetry in maintaining the patterns with which women grew up.

Even after long contact with the still more traditional West German employment patterns of women and men, mothers who grew up in East Germany return to work earlier and work longer than their West German colleagues. In contrast, mothers who grew up in West Germany and are employed in East Germany largely adapt their employment behaviour after birth to the employment behaviour of their East German colleagues.
Barbara Boelmann, Uta Schönberg, and Anna Raute have also found out that when even if only a few East German women worked in West German companies in the first few years after reunification, the native West German female colleagues were encouraged to return to work more quickly after the birth of a child. "Migration can be a catalyst for cultural change," summarise the three authors.