Missing Gender Convergence in Work-Family Life Courses in West Germany: Multichannel Sequence Analysis of Early Adulthood Life Paths

Daniele Florean , Humboldt University Berlin
Henriette Engelhardt-Woelfler

Individualization of the life course changed the traditional patterns of family formation and division of labor between men and women, which according to theory are moving towards a more egalitarian, genderless model. This study looks for evidence of a convergence of life trajectories of men and women in the second half of the 20th century in West Germany looking at family formation and labor force participation patterns. We give an in-depth longitudinal descriptive analysis of life trajectories of German men and women and their change across generations, highlighting the importance of a sequence-based approach for life courses analysis. Using sequence analysis, we compare life trajectories of three different birth cohorts of West German respondents between the ages of 18 and 42 (N = 4918), obtaining a set of five clusters, each a different type of combined work-family life trajectory. We then look at how sex and cohort of birth influence the probability of being selected in each of these clusters using logistic regressions. Our data show evidence for a cross-cohort polarization of women’s trajectories towards either career centered or family care focused trajectories and a shift in male trajectories towards career-centered patterns but find no conclusive evidence for a convergence of life trajectories between sexes over time. The shift towards egalitarian division of labor and common life course patterns between men and women is dependent on institutional context, and Germany still shows evidence for a traditional role division.

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 Presented in Session 108. Life Course