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Title: What makes dual career couples successful?
Author: Langner, Laura Antonia
ISNI:       0000 0004 5362 2604
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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I use the German Socio-Economic Panel to explore three dimensions of couples' career success: career input (hours), career output (wages) and happiness. I focus on West German parents because, until recently, they faced low levels of state-level childcare support and adverse attitudes towards maternal employment. I investigate the extent to which couples specialize in paid work in the long term. Previous approaches – even those using couple-level longitudinal data – failed to explore this fully, instead examining men and women separately, or a single transition. I develop a “dual curve” approach and find that even among the 1956-65 female birth cohort (which faced low state-level support for dual employment) only a fifth of all couples adopt full specialization in later life. A sizable proportion – a third – moves into dual fulltime employment, while half of highly educated couples adopt such employment. Highly educated women are not only less likely to permanently specialize but also more likely to try working full-time, possibly because their partners' comparative advantages are lower. I explore whether the take-up of work hour flexibility relates to rises in both the respondent’s and their partner’s wages. Men and women benefit from working flexibly, even when controlling for selection into work hour flexibility with growth-curve and fixed effects analysis. Moreover, there is a positive cross-partner wage effect, which is particularly pronounced for mothers, suggesting that men – the main users of the policy – use this measure to support their wives' careers. Are dual career couples (equal human capital investment) happier than specializing couples? I create a human capital measure to account for differential human capital during periods of non-employment, which has been ignored in past analyses. I find that women in dual career couples are unhappier when the child is young but happier later in life. Conversely, women who give precedence to their partner’s career in terms of human capital investment grow unhappier.
Supervisor: Gershuny, Jonathan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sociology ; Families ; Households ; Employment ; Social mobility ; Dual Careers ; Family Sociology ; Longitudinal ; Panel