Towards an adult worker model? Mothers’ employment behaviour in Great Britain, eastern and western Germany

Esther Geisler, University of Rostock

The influence of welfare state policies on maternal employment decisions has been a well discussed topic. Welfare state researchers have postulated the shift towards an adult worker model, meaning a model in which all capable adults are regarded as potential earners during the last decade. Great Britain and Germany are interesting countries to analyse this topic since they have been labelled as male breadwinner regimes in the past and have partly changed their policies within the last years towards more individualising measures which support the employment of mothers. Due to their low labour market participation and high welfare dependency lone mothers had become a specific target in Great Britain. In contrast, western German lone mothers were not on the political agenda in the same way. Since lone mothers are earner and carer in one person they are an interesting group from a theoretical perspective with regard to the recognition of paid and unpaid labour and the question to what extent the welfare state should assume responsibility for families. Based on pooled German microcensus data and data from the British Labour Force Survey multinomial logistic regressions are estimated to investigate, to what extent the introduction of activating labour market policies has changed eastern and western German as well as British mothers’ employment participation. The focus is on the question which differences can be found regarding the partnership status and education. The results for Britain show that lone mothers increased their employment participation, in particular in long part-time and full-time employment after 1997. In western Germany one could observe an increase among married and lone mothers but not among cohabiting mothers after the implementation of unemployment benefit reform while in eastern Germany no change or even a decrease among married, cohabiting and lone mothers was found.

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Presented in Session 51: Labour force participation and family