Family Policy, Immigrant and German Families, and Labor Supply

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 26.02.2004, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Sherrie Kossoudji (University of Michigan)


In the United States, maternity leave and post-birth maternal leave play only small roles in labor market decisions because relatively few women have the benefits associated with such policies. Immigrant women, in particular, have high rates of labor force participation following birth. In Germany, which has well-developed and extensive social welfare policies, parental leave is guaranteed for up to three years following a birth. But immigrant and German women appear to use parental leave in different ways. We identify how, and to what extent, differences exist between immigrants and Germans in the use of the policies and benefits designed to affect female labor market participation and to affect both short and long term human capital accumulation. Using GSOEP data, we analyze and compare labor force behavior of women from different immigrant groups with the labor force behavior of German women in the west and in the East during the time before and following childbirth.

We describe the timing of entering the labor force after birth for women in the different groups by examining basic hazard rates. We estimate the probability of work participation and a straightforward hazard rate model of the duration before mothers enter market work after childbirth. We find significant and notable differences in behavior for German and immigrant women. Not only do German and immigrant women utilize maternity leave finances differently, their labor force behavior suggests a substantive alteration of work patterns for mothers. Both German and immigrant women alter their labor supply behavior in substantive ways surrounding the birth of a child. German women are significantly more likely than immigrant women to work full time before the birth of a child. After the birth, however, full time work falls precipitously for both groups and significant differences disappear. On the other hand, there are no differences (between German and immigrant women) in rates of part time work before the birth of a child. Immediately after the birth German women are more likely than immigrant women to work part-time and after the first year they are more than twice as likely to work part-time. Many German women appear to substitute part-time work for full time work after childbirth. Immigrant women are more likely to simply leave the labor force. Controlling for other factors, German and immigrant women react to the birth of a child with different labor market behaviors.

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