Mothers—the New Hidden Reserve? Germany and the U.S., a Comparison

Grunow, Daniela; Aisenbrey, Silke

Do economic recessions change the labor market attachment of women with children? How is the reentry process after childbirth dependent on the welfare state regime that mothers have to negotiate? We use data from the NLSY and the German Life History Study to test the effects of parental leave and unemployment rates for changes in mothers‘ rate of return to employment after the birth of a child. We introduce and test two types of hypotheses of mothers‘ employment continuity after birth, the "new hidden reserve" hypothesis and the "agency" hypothesis. In western Germany it is mothers on parental leave who appear to constitute a modern, institutionally fostered "new hidden reserve." These mothers tend to return to their jobs later when unemployment is high. In the U.S., occupational prestige is a significant factor in supplying "agency" to mothers during economically tied situations. However, here, economic recessions come with increasing employment gaps, especially for mothers with lower socio-economic status.



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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, Columbia University
ISERP Working Papers, 2011.02
Published Here
May 2, 2012