Who is breadwinning? A 20-year comparison of female labour supply in Germany and the UK

Publication type

Conference Paper


Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2015, 21-23 July 2015, University of Essex, Colchester, UK


Publication date

July 22, 2015


The increase in working women and in working-motherhood has not brought about the egalitarian ideal of gendered parity in working and non-working lives that earlier research anticipated. This paper offers new insights to this ongoing debate by examining trends in the predictors of female labour supply over a 20-year period in two countries: Germany and the United Kingdom. The study uses longitudinal data covering the period 1991 until 2012 from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) for Germany and from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and Understanding Society for the UK. The paper examines the impact of both (her) individual and (their) couple attributes to determine the relative structuring impact of within household inequalities on gendered economic outcomes over time. Our primary dependent variable is working-status, with the paper revealing the predictors of switches across working-status applying change models with controls for selection effects. One of our central control variables, breadwinning status, examines the impact of within household economic position on market outcome. The paper finds strong evidence that within couple inequalities have negative impacts on women’s market transitions. The paper also challenges the claims of earlier researchers that predicted a rise in equal-earning. We found that, with the exception of East-Germany, West-Germany and the UK displayed little evidence of an increase in equal-earning over a 20-year period. The country exhibiting the most change is East-Germany where equal-earning is declining.




Related Publications



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