Mobility Decisions of Dual-Career Couples- New Evidence on the “Co-Location” Problem

Thursday, July 17, 2014
Room: 511
Natascha NISIC , School of Business, Economics and Social Sciences, Universitaet Hamburg, 2035, Germany
Working couples in general face a “co-location problem”. Since it is unlikely that both partners will find their individually best job offer at the same geographic location, at least one partner will have to make concessions when joint locational decisions are made. So far research on regional mobility of couples has shown that it is mostly women who make these concessions and  who suffer disadvantages with respect to career opportunities. A common framework for explaining such gendered outcomes has been proposed by Mincer who assumes that a joint move will occur if the gains of one partner outweigh the losses of the other partner. Since women are (still) mostly in the role of secondary earners, their losses can be outbalanced more easily. However, with the rise in women’s employment participation the potential for couples co-location problem has grown, especially for the higher educated with more specialized careers. One implication of the Mincer model would be, that in particular dual-career couples should be significantly less mobile than other couple types. However, recent research is less consistent on this topic, suggesting that dual-career couples are even more mobile than other couples. This contribution aims to explain these contradicting findings and to shed more light on the mobility decisions of dual-career couples by analyzing more thoroughly the circumstances of such migration. In particular it tries to combine mobility research with regional sociology and economics which emphasize the relevance of regional opportunity structures, especially those of urban labor markets. Theoretically an extension of the Mincer Model is proposed by referring to a bargaining model of household decisions. The empirical analysis is based on panel data analysis of the German Socio Economic Panel, waves 1992-2011. The paper also gives insight into recent developments in urban settlement and the changing social structure of large metropolitan areas.