On the nature of nurture. The malleability of gender differences in work preferences

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We study the malleability of gender-specific preferences for work by exploiting the German division and reunification as a natural experiment. We test whether the two political systems have shaped gender gaps in preferences differentially, based on German-General-Social-Survey data from 1991, 1998 and 2012, an extensive set of register data and historical data from the 19th and early 20th century. Our analyses reveal a substantial East-West difference in the gender gap directly after reunification and no convergence thereafter. A cohort analysis illuminates the mechanism, as the effect is driven by cohorts who grew up during separation, and suggests that institutions, not cultural legacy, are the decisive component.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Pages (from-to)19-41
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 01.07.2018
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Economics - Cohort analysis, Work preferences
  • Gender and Diversity - Gender differences, German separation and reunification, Natural experiment