Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Revisiting ‘mothers and sons’ preference formation and the female labor force in Switzerland

an article by Aline Bütikofer (Norwegian School of Economics, Bergen, Norway) published in Labour Economics Volume 20 (January 2013)


This paper analyses the interrelation between men’s gender role attitudes and female labour supply decision. Following Fernández et al. (2004), I argue that the recent increases in the female labour market participation rate are driven by the growing proportion of men who were brought up in a family with a working mother.

First, the paper re-examines the results of the cross-section analysis of Fernández et al. (2004) using the Swiss Household Panel 2005 to illustrate that married women whose mothers-in-law were working are themselves significantly more likely to be in the labour force.

In a second step, the paper attempts to test one of their model’s crucial mechanisms and show that the effect of a wife’s labour market integration on her husband’s well-being diverges depending on the former labour market status of his mother.

Taken together, this evidence can be interpreted as varying preferences for women with high labour market integration due to exposure to certain sexual stereotypes early in life.


► I analyse interrelations between marriage choice and female labour supply decision.
► Married women are more likely to work when their mothers-in-law were working.
► A wife's contribution to household income reduces her husband's satisfaction.
► The negative effect is only significant when the husband raised by working a mother.

JEL Classification J22, I31, J12

Full text (PDF 10pp)

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