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Undoing Gender with Institutions. Lessons from the German Division and Reunification

Abstract : Social scientists have provided empirical evidence that "gender trumps money", meaning that gender norms can be more powerful than economic rationality in shaping daily arrangements between spouses. In particular, when they deviate from the "male breadwinner" norm, women react by "doing gender", i.e. overplaying their feminine role by increasing the number of housework hours that they accomplish. The risk of divorce also increases when a woman earns more than her husband. This paper shows that, however powerful, these norms are cultural and can be trumped by institutions. We use the 41-year division of Germany as a natural experiment and look at differences between East and West Lander in terms of gender behavior after the German reunification. As most countries of the socialist bloc, the former GDR had designed institutions that were much more gender equalizing than their counterpart in the former FRG. We show that these institutions have created a culture that keeps inuencing behavior up to the current period. In particular, East Germany differs from West Germany in the sense that a woman can earn more than her husband without "doing gender" and without putting her marriage at risk.
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Contributor : Caroline Bauer <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - 12:46:34 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, September 7, 2021 - 3:44:34 PM


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  • HAL Id : halshs-01297653, version 2



Quentin Lippmann, Alexandre Georgieff, Claudia Senik. Undoing Gender with Institutions. Lessons from the German Division and Reunification. 2016. ⟨halshs-01297653v2⟩



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