Employment Patterns During Early Motherhood in West Germany, East Germany and Hungary

Lili Vargha , Humboldt-Univerität zu Berlin & Hungarian Deomgraphic Research Institute
Anette E. Fasang, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Antonino Polizzi, Humboldt-Univerität zu Berlin

The aim of our paper is to compare women’s employment patterns before and after the birth of the first child in West Germany, East Germany and Hungary. In particular, we study how similar the most common patterns of parental employment trajectories in post-socialist East Germany and Hungary are after the collapse of the socialist regime and how much they resemble West German employment patterns. Even though there is a growing literature on women’s and mothers’ employment in these countries, researchers usually operationalize employment as a stable dichotomous variable. Following other life course approaches (e.g., Aisenbrey & Fasang 2017; Hynes & Clarkberg 2005), we suggest a more complex and dynamic theorizing and operationalization of parental employment. By applying the relatively novel method of Group Based Trajectory Modeling (Nagin 1999) on panel data, we focus on identifying the most common patterns of employment trajectories surrounding first births (starting from one year before birth until the fourth year after birth). Multinomial logit models are used to understand selection to the different groups of employment trajectories. Our preliminary results show that in West and East Germany the employment patterns are similarly heterogeneous: German women exhibit significant movement into and out of the labor force around birth. In Hungary, however, we find rather homogeneous employment patterns, with the majority of first time mothers out of the labour market or having a long leave during the 4 years after birth in 2002-2017.

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 Presented in Session 11. Flash session: intersections of family formation and employment during the life course