Skip to main content

Parental Leave and Domestic Work of Mothers and Fathers: A Longitudinal Study of Two Reforms in West Germany

  • PIA S. SCHOBER (a1)

Following two parental leave reforms in West Germany, this research explores how child care and housework time changed among couples who have just had a child. The reform in 1992 extended the low paid or unpaid parental leave period, whereas the 2007 reform introduced income-dependent compensation and two ‘daddy months’. This study contributes to the literature by examining different mechanisms on how these reforms were associated with domestic work time in couples. Based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (1990–2010), the analysis applies ordinary least square (OLS) regressions and difference-in-difference estimations. The findings point to a significant reduction in paternal child care time eighteen to thirty months after childbirth among couples with children born after the 1992 reform. The 2007 reform was associated with increased child care time of fathers in the first year and eighteen to thirty months after the birth. Changes in maternal child care and both partners’ housework were not statistically significant. Alterations in maternal and paternal labour market participation, wages and leave taking accounted for most of the observed variations in paternal child care except for eighteen to thirteen months after the 2007 reform. This unexplained variance may point to a normative policy effect.

Hide All
Becker, G. S. (1981), A Treatise on the Family, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Blohm, M. (2002), ‘Einstellungen zur Rolle der Frau’, in Statistisches Bundesamt (ed.), Datenreport 2002, Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung.
Braun, M., Scott, J. and Alwin, D. F. (1994), ‘Economic necessity or selfactualization? Attitudes toward women's labour-force participation in East and West Germany’, European Sociological Review, 10: 1, 2947.
Craig, L. and Mullan, K. (2011), ‘How mothers and fathers share childcare: a cross-national time-use comparison’, American Sociological Review, 76: 834.
Deutscher Bundestag (1994), ‘Bundeserziehungsgeldgesetz’, Bundestags-Drucksache, Nr. 12/7778.
Deutscher Bundestag (2004), ‘Entwurf eines Gesetzes zum qualitätsorientierten und bedarfsgerechten Ausbau der Tagesbetreuung und zur Weiterentwicklung der Kinder- und Jugendhilfe (Tagesbetreuungsausbaugesetz – TAG)’, Bundestags-Drucksache, Nr. 15/3676.
Deutscher Bundestag (2005), ‘Bildung, Betreuung und Erziehung vor und neben der Schule. Zwölfter Kinder- und Jugendbericht’, Bundestags-Drucksache, Nr. 15/6014.
Deutscher Bundestag (2008a), ‘Bericht über die Auswirkungen des Bundeselterngeld- und Elternzeitgesetzes sowie über die gegebenenfalls notwendige Weiterentwicklung’, Bundestags-Drucksache, Nr. 16/10770.
Deutscher Bundestag (2008b), ‘Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Förderung von Kindern unter drei Jahren in Tageseinrichtungen und in der Kindertagespflege (Kinderförderungsgesetz – KiföG)’, Bundestags-Drucksache, Nr. 16/9299.
Ekberg, J., Eriksson, R. and Friebel, G. (2013), ‘Parental leave – a policy evaluation of the Swedish “daddy-month” reform’, Journal of Public Economics, 97: 1, 131–43.
Fuwa, M. and Cohen, P. N. (2007), ‘Housework and social policy’, Social Science Research, 36: 512–30.
Geisler, E. and Kreyenfeld, M. (2012), ‘How policy matters: Germany's parental leave benefit reform and fathers’ behavior 1999–2009’, MPIDR Working Paper WP 2012–021, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research.
Gershuny, J. and Sullivan, O. (2003), ‘Time use, gender and public policy regimes’, Social Politics, 10: 2, 205–28.
Goldstein, J., Kreyenfeld, M., Huinink, J., Konietzka, D. and Trappe, H. (2010), Familie und Partnerschaft in Ost- und Westdeutschland, Rostock: Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research.
Goodman, J. M. (2012), ‘Did California's Paid Family Leave law affect mothers’ time spent on work and childcare?’, Paper presented at the Population Association of America Meeting, 2 April 2012, San Francisco.
Haas, L. and Hwang, P. (2008), ‘The impact of taking parental leave on fathers’ participation in childcare and relationships with children: lessons from Sweden’, Community, Work, and Family, 11: 85104.
Hochschild, A. R. (1995), ‘The culture of politics: traditional, postmodern, cold-modern, and warm-modern ideals of care’, Social Politics, 2: 3, 331–46.
Hook, J. L. (2006), ‘Care in context: men's unpaid work in 20 countries, 1965–2003’, American Sociological Review, 71: 639–60.
Hook, J. L. (2010), ‘Gender inequality in the welfare state: task segregation in housework, 1965–2003’, American Journal of Sociology, 115: 1480–523.
Hosking, A., Whitehouse, G. and Baxter, J. (2010), ‘Duration of leave and resident fathers’ involvement in infant care in Australia’, Journal of Marriage and Family, 72: 5, 1301–16.
International Network of Leave Policies and Research (2011), ‘Total leave available’, (accessed 9 February 2012).
Kan, M. Y. and Pudney, S. (2008), ‘Measurement error in stylized and diary data on time use’, Sociological Methodology, 38: 1, 101–32.
Kluve, J. and Tamm, M. (2009), ‘Now daddy's changing diapers and mommy's making her career: evaluating a generous parental leave regulation using a natural experiment’, IZA Discussion Paper 4500.
Koch, A. (2000), ‘Vereinbarkeit von Familie und Beruf für beide Geschlechter? Zum Gesetzentwurf der rot-grünen Bundesregierung’, Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik, 45: 590–9.
Konietzka, D. and Kreyenfeld, M. (2010), ‘The growing educational divide in mothers’ employment: an investigation based on the German micro-censuses 1976–2004’, Work, Employment and Society, 24: 2, 260–78.
Kremer, M. (2007), How Welfare States Care: Culture, Gender and Parenting in Europe, Utrecht: Amsterdam University Press.
Kreyenfeld, M. and Krapf, S. (2010), ‘Soziale Ungleichheit und Kinderbetreuung: eine Analyse der sozialen und ökonomischen Determinanten der Nutzung von Kindertageseinrichtungen’, in Becker, R. and Lauterbach, W. (eds.), Bildung als Privileg: Erklärungen und Befunde zu den Ursachen der Bildungsungleichheit, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.
Lewis, J. (2001), ‘The decline of the male breadwinner model: the implications for work and care’, Social Politics, 8: 2, 152–70.
Lewis, J., Knijn, T., Martin, C. and Ostner, I. (2008), ‘Patterns of development in work/family reconciliation: policies for parents in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK in the 2000s’, Social Politics, 15: 3, 261–86.
Lundberg, S. and Pollak, R. A. (1996), ‘Bargaining and distribution in marriage’, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 10: 4, 139–58.
Nepomnyaschy, L. and Waldfogel, J. (2007), ‘Paternity leave and fathers’ involvement with their young children: evidence from the American ECLS_B’, Community, Work and Family, 10: 4, 427–53.
Neyer, G. and Andersson, G. (2008), ‘Consequences of family policies on childbearing behavior: effects or artifacts?’, Population and Development Review, 34: 4, 699724.
NíBhrolcháin, M. and Dyson, T. (2007), ‘On causation in demography: issues and illustrations’, Population and Development Review, 33, 1: 136.
O'Brien, M. (2009), ‘Fathers, parental leave policies, and infant quality of life: international perspectives and policy impact’, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 624: 190213.
Ondrich, J. C., Spiess, K., Yang, Q. and Wagner, G. G. (2003), ‘The liberalization of maternity leave policy and the return to work after childbirth in Germany’, Review of Economics of the Household, 77–110: 1, 12.
Ott, N. (1992), Intrafamily Bargaining and Household Decisions, Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
Pfau-Effinger, B. (2005), ‘Culture and welfare state policies: reflections on a complex interrelation’, Journal of Social Policy, 34: 1, 118.
Pleck, J. (1993), ‘Are family-supportive’ employer policies relevant to men?’, in Hood, J. (ed.), Men, Work and Family, Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Pronzato, C. (2009), ‘Return to work after childbirth: does parental leave matter in Europe?’, Review of Economics of the Household, 7: 4, 341–60.
Pylkkaenen, E. and Smith, N. (2004), ‘The impact of family-friendly policies in Denmark and Sweden on mothers’ career interruptions due to childbirth’, IZA Discussion Papers 1050.
Risman, B. J. (2004), ‘Gender as a social structure: theory wrestling with activism’, Gender and Society, 18: 4, 429–50.
Ruhm, C. J. (1998), ‘The economic consequences of parental leave mandates: lessons from Europe’, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 113: 285317.
RWI (2008), Evaluation des Gesetzes zum Elterngeld und zur Elternzeit – Endbericht 2008, Berlin.
Schober, P. S. (2012), ‘Leave to care longer? Maternal employment interruptions and domestic work after childbirth’, Paper presented at the Population Association of America Meeting, 3 April 2012, San Francisco.
Schoenberg, U. and Ludsteck, J. (2007), ‘Maternity leave legislation, female labor supply, and the family wage gap’, IZA Discussion Paper 2699.
Schulz, F. and Rost, H. (2012), ‘Hausarbeitsteilung und Erwerbsunterbrechung von Müttern unter den Bedingungen des neuen Elterngeldgesetzes: Erste empirische Befunde aus Bayern’, Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 24: 1, 2745.
SOEP (2011), Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), data for years 1990–2010, version 27, doi:10.5684/soep.v27.
Stewart, A. J. and McDermott, C. (2004), ‘Gender in psychology’, Annual Review of Psychology, 55: 519–44.
Stryker, S. and Burke, P. J. (2000), ‘The past, present, and future of an identity theory’, Social Psychology Quarterly, 63: 284–97.
Sullivan, O., Coltrane, S., Mcannally, L. and Altintas, E. (2009), ‘Father-friendly policies and time-use data in a cross-national context: potential and prospects for future research’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 624: 234–54.
Tanaka, S. and Waldfogel, J. (2007), ‘Effects of parental leave and working hours on fathers’ involvement with their babies: evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort Study’, Community, Work and Family, 10: 4, 409–26.
Trappe, H. (2013), ‘Väter mit Elterngeldbezug: Nichts als ökonomisches Kalkül?’, Zeitschrift für Soziologie, 42: 1, 2852.
Wagner, G. G., Frick, J. R. and Schupp, J. (2007), ‘The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – scope, evolution and enhancements’, Schmollers Jahrbuch, 127: 1, 139–69.
Waldfogel, J. (1998), ‘The family gap for young women in the US and GB: can maternity leave make a difference?’, Journal of Labour Economics, 16: 3, 505–45.
Waldfogel, J., Higuchi, Y. and Abe, M. (1999), ‘Family leave policies and women's retention after childbirth: evidence from the United States, Britain, and Japan’, Journal of Population Economics, 12: 4, 523–46.
West, C. and Zimmerman, D. H. (1987), ‘Doing gender’, Gender and Society, 1: 2, 125–51.
Wrohlich, K., Berger, E., Geyer, J., Haan, P., Sengül, D., Spieß, C. K. and Thiemann, A. (2012), ‘Elterngeld monitor’, Politikberatung kompakt, Berlin: DIW.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Social Policy
  • ISSN: 0047-2794
  • EISSN: 1469-7823
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-social-policy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 14
Total number of PDF views: 265 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 713 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.