Maternal Work and Care Arrangements for Children below 3: Increasing Socioeconomic Disparities in East and West Germany

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:05
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Pia SCHOBER, German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), Germany
Juliane STAHL, German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), Germany
This study explores changes in the take-up formal and informal child care and maternal employment for mothers with children under three years in East and West Germany between 1991 and 2013. We focus on differences between maternal education groups and changes therein following the massive expansion of day-care availability for young children since 2005. While attitudes towards using formal care for young children have also changed continuously, large differences between East and West Germany persist. By comparing the trends over time between East and West Germany, we examine if the substantially greater provision and acceptance of non-parental child care in East Germany serves to attenuate gaps in maternal employment and day-care use across social groups.

We estimate logistic regressions predicting the probability of i) maternal employment, ii) day-care use, and iii) informal care use based on waves 1991 to 2013 of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP). The sample contains a total of 14,578 observations from 4,950 and 1,272 children under three in West and East Germany, respectively.

The findings indicate that the disparities in maternal employment and daycare attendance have increased over time between education groups in both East and West Germany. The increase in daycare use was most pronounced among children of high educated mothers. These mothers frequently complemented the use of formal daycare by informal care provided by relatives or nannies. Low educated mothers have been falling increasingly behind regarding employment and use of external child care, which may be seen as problematic in terms of mothers’ longer-term labour market outcomes and children’s opportunities to benefit from formal care. The findings suggest that expanding affordable formal day-care does not necessarily lead to more equal use of this publicly subsidized resource, but that social inequalities may even grow wider.