Skip to content

Journal Article

Maternal labor market return and domestic work after childbirth in Britain and Germany


Publication date



This study investigates how the duration of maternal labor market interruptions and mothers' employment status after return relate to the division of domestic work in couples after childbirth in West Germany, East Germany, and Britain. It extends the literature by considering how these two aspects of postnatal labor market return decisions of mothers may give rise to or counteract growing gender inequality in domestic work afterbirth events. Using data on 826 British and 1614 German new parent couples based on the British Household Panel Study (BHPS) (1991–2008) and on the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) (1990–2010), I apply fixed-effects panel models. Mothers perform more housework with increasing length of their employment interruptions across the three contexts. For childcare, longer time-outs increase mothers' childcare share in West Germany but not in East Germany. This result is in line with institutional variations in day-care provision. Across contexts, mothers' full-time returns are associated with a larger reduction in their domestic work share than short time-out. After mothers returned to part-time employment, couples show no or much weaker compensating behaviors for longer previous maternal time-outs than after a full-time return.

Published in

Community, Work & Family

Volume and page numbers

16 , 307 -326





Labour Market, Childbearing: Fertility, and Sociology Of Households



Online in Albert Sloman Library, except current 12 months


Research home

Research home


Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest