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Zeitschrift für Soziologie

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Volume 47, Issue 1


How working hours influence the life satisfaction of childless men and women, fathers and mothers in Germany

Wie Arbeitszeiten die Lebenszufriedenheit von kinderlosen Männern und Frauen sowie Vätern und Müttern beeinflussen

Martin Schröder
  • Corresponding author
  • Institut für Soziologie, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Ketzerbach 11, 35037 Marburg, Germany
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Published Online: 2018-03-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zfsoz-2018-1004


This paper uses the German Socio-Economic Panel to show that fathers – and to a lesser degree childless men and women, are most satisfied with life when working full-time or longer. In contrast, whether mothers spend more or less hours in employment hardly affects their life satisfaction. The rational maximization of income as postulated by family economics cannot explain these results, as they are even found in households where women earn more than men. Because they are also found among those who hold secure jobs and have very little household work and childcare duties, these results contradict the predictions by expansionist role theory that men and women are better off in egalitarian employment arrangements. The results change little over time, with cohorts or with educational group-membership. For men, the results therefore fit best with the predictions of traditional role theory, which suggests that people are most satisfied when adhering to stereotypical gender roles.


Dieser Artikel zeigt mit Daten des Sozio-oekonomischen Panels, dass Väter – und in geringerem Maße kinderlose Männer und Frauen – am zufriedensten sind, wenn sie Vollzeit oder länger arbeiten. Die Lebenszufriedenheit von Müttern ist dahingegen kaum von ihren Arbeitszeiten beeinflusst. Rationale Einkommensmaximierung kann dieses Muster nicht erklären, da es sogar in Haushalten auftritt, in denen Frauen mehr verdienen als Männer. Die Ergebnisse zeigen sich ebenfalls bei Menschen mit sehr sicheren Arbeitsplätzen und sehr wenig Haus- und Kinderbetreuungsarbeit. Damit widersprechen sie den Prognosen der expansionistischen Rollentheorie, dass Männer und Frauen zufriedener sind, wenn sie beide gleich umfangreich erwerbstätig sind. Für Männer passen die Ergebnisse am besten zu den Vorhersagen der traditionellen Rollentheorie, wonach Menschen zufriedener sind, wenn sie stereotypen Geschlechterrollen entsprechen.

This article offers supplementary material which is provided at the end of the article.

Keywords: Working Hours; Life Satisfaction; Gender Roles; Traditional Role Theory; Family Economics; Expansionist Role Theory

Schlüsselwörter: Arbeitszeiten; Lebenszufriedenheit; Geschlechterrollen; traditionelle Rollentheorie; Familienökonomie; expansionistische Rollentheorie


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About the article

Martin Schröder

Prof. Dr. Martin Schröder, geb. 1981. Studium der Europäischen Studien in Osnabrück. Promotion am MPIfG Köln. Seit 2015 Professor für Arbeits- und Wirtschaftssoziologie an der Philipps-Universität Marburg.

Forschungsschwerpunkte: Der Einfluss moralischer Argumente auf wirtschaftliches Handeln und soziale Ungleichheit, vergleichende Kapitalismus- und Wohlfahrtsstaatsforschung, Geschlechterbenachteiligung auf Arbeitsmärkten, Lebenszufriedenheitsforschung.

Wichtige Publikationen: 2011: Die Macht moralischer Argumente. Produktionsverlagerungen zwischen wirtschaftlichen Interessen und gesellschaftlicher Verantwortung. Wiesbaden: VS. 2013: Integrating Varieties of Capitalism and Welfare State Research: A Unified Typology of Capitalisms. New York: Palgrave. 2016: Who becomes a tenured professor, and why? Panel data evidence from German sociology, 1980–2013. In: Research Policy 45, 999–1013. 2016: How Income Inequality Influences Life Satisfaction: Hybrid Effects Evidence from the German SOEP. In: European Sociological Review 32, 307–320. 2017: Income Inequality and Life Satisfaction: Unrelated Between Countries, Associated Within Countries Over Time. In: Journal of Happiness Studies, 1–23. 2017: Is Income Inequality Related to Tolerance for Inequality? In: Social Justice Research 30, 23–47.

Published Online: 2018-03-28

Published in Print: 2018-02-23

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Soziologie, Volume 47, Issue 1, Pages 65–82, ISSN (Online) 2366-0325, ISSN (Print) 0340-1804, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zfsoz-2018-1004.

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