Conference Paper BHPS-2007 Conference: the 2007 British Household Panel Survey Research Conference, 5 July -7 July 2007, Colchester, UK
Married women's work trajectories and income inequality in Germany, Great Britain and the United States -abstract-
In this research we investigate the impact of women's breadwinner roles on income inequality in the United States, Germany and Britain. We use panel data models to investigate the evolution of couples work careers and women’s earnings in the first five years following union formation. The data for our analyses come from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics in the United States, the German Socio-Economic Panel, and the British Household Panel Study. Our analysis of career trajectories points to important ways in which cross-national differences in institutional settings structure women’s work careers: in the United States, women experience steep penalties for labor market withdrawal, especially in the early career, and substantial penalties for part-time work. Women respond to these incentives by maintaining high levels of full-time participation after marriage and childbirth. In Britain, recent minimum-wage legislation alleviates some but not all of the wage penalties associated with part-time work. Despite these disadvantages, part-time employment rates among married women are substantially higher in Britain than in the United States. In Germany, women’s wages are protected by three distinctive features of the German labor market: a credential-based occupational structure, centralized wage-setting that precludes the development of sharp wage differentials for part-time work, and extensive employment protections for women who withdraw temporarily following childbirth. Results from simulations of family income inequality under alternative assumptions about household labor supply, marital stability and welfare state support for working families suggest that women’s labor force participation is an important component of country-level income inequality.