Does Culture Trump Money? New Evidence on the Role of Cultural Distinctions for Migrant and Non-Migrant Mothers’ Employment in Germany

Christina Boll , German Youth Institute (DJI)
Andreas Lagemann, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI)

This study explores which role cultural distinctions play against economic resources for the employment probability of West German mothers aged 20-55 with a child below age three in the household and with a direct migration background (1,414 obs.) vs. no migration background (3,877 obs.). We measure culture with a rich set of factors including gender roles, religious practices and social milieus and, for migrant women, factors of migrant biography as well as indicators for social, structural and emotional integration. We further account for potential endogeneity of childcare use in the employment decision. Based on the waves 2007-2016 of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), including the migrant samples M1and M2 and the samples L1-L3 from the project Families in Germany (FiD), our bivariate probit and 2SLS estimations show that cultural distinctions play a crucial role for maternal employment even when one accounts for the mother’s human capital and her household context. Gender roles are decisive for both groups of mothers. For migrant mothers, facets of structural and social integration, immigration period, refugee experience and sometimes milieu affiliation are influential. The specification of culture leaves employment associations of economic resources mostly unchanged.

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 Presented in Session 41. Immigration, Human Capital and Integration