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

Martin Schröder 1
  • 1 Institut für Soziologie, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Marburg, Germany
Martin Schröder
  • Corresponding author
  • Institut für Soziologie, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Marburg, Germany
  • Email
  • Further information
  • 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.
  • Search for other articles:
  • degruyter.comGoogle Scholar

Abstract

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.

    • supplement material
  • Aisenbrey, S., M. Evertsson & D. Grunow, 2009: Is There a Career Penalty for Mothers’ Time Out? A Comparison of Germany, Sweden and the United States. Social Forces 88: 573–605.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Akerlof, G. A. & R. E. Kranton, 2000: Economics and Identity. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 115: 715–753.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Akerlof, G. A. & R. E. Kranton, 2010: Identity Economics: How Our Identities Shape Our Work, Wages, and Well-Being. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Álvarez, B. & D. Miles-Touya, 2015: Time Allocation and Women’s Life Satisfaction: Evidence from Spain. Social Indicators Research 129(3): 1207–1230.

  • Barnett, R. C. & J. S. Hyde, 2001: Women, Men, Work, and Family. An Expansionist Theory. American Psychologist 56: 781–796.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Bartolini, S., E. Bilancini & F. Sarracino, 2013: Predicting the Trend of Well-Being in Germany: How Much Do Comparisons, Adaptation and Sociability Matter? Social Indicators Research 114(2): 169–191.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Becker, G. S., 1991 [1981]: A Treatise on the Family. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Becker, G. S., 1993: Nobel Lecture: The Economic Way of Looking at Behavior. The Journal of Political Economy 101: 385–409.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Benz, M. & B. S. Frey, 2008: Being Independent is a Great Thing: Subjective Evaluations of Self-Employment and Hierarchy. Economica 75: 362–383.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Berger, E. M., 2013: Happy Working Mothers? Investigating the Effect of Maternal Employment on Life Satisfaction. Economica 80: 23–43.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Blossfeld, H.-P., S. Drobnic & G. Rohwer, 2001: Spouses’ Employment Careers in (West) Germany. S. 53–76 in: H.-P. Blossfeld & S. Drobnic (Hrsg.), Careers of Couples in Contemporary Societies. From Male Breadwinner to Dual Earner Families. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Boeckmann, I., J. Misra & M. J. Budig, 2015: Cultural and Institutional Factors Shaping Mothers’ Employment and Working Hours in Postindustrial Countries. Social Forces 93: 1301–1333.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Booth, A. L. & J. C. Van Ours, 2008: Job Satisfaction and Family Happiness: The Part-Time Work Puzzle. The Economic Journal 118: F77-F99.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Booth, A. L. & J. C. Van Ours, 2009: Hours of Work and Gender Identity: Does Part-time Work Make the Family Happier? Economica 76: 176–196.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Booth, A. L. & J. C. Van Ours, 2012: Part-Time Jobs: What Women Want? Journal of Population Economics 26: 263–283.

  • Boye, K., 2009: Relatively Different? How do Gender Differences in Well-Being Depend on Paid and Unpaid Work in Europe? Social Indicators Research 93: 509–525.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Cooke, L. P. & V. Gash, 2010: Wives’ Part-time Employment and Marital Stability in Great Britain, West Germany and the United States. Sociology 44: 1091–1108.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Craig, L. & K. Mullan, 2010: Parenthood, Gender and Work-Family Time in the United States, Australia, Italy, France, and Denmark. Journal of Marriage and Family 72: 1344–1361.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Csikszentmihalyi, M., 1990: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper & Row.

  • Dahrendorf, R., 2006 [1959]: Homo Sociologicus. Ein Versuch zur Geschichte, Bedeutung und Kritik der Kategorie der sozialen Rolle. Wiesbaden: VS.

  • Deding, M. & M. Lausten, 2010: Gendered Time-Crunch and Work Factors in Denmark. Social Indicators Research 101(2): 249–253.

  • Delhey, J. & G. Dragolov, 2014: Why Inequality Makes Europeans Less Happy: The Role of Distrust, Status Anxiety, and Perceived Conflict. European Sociological Review 30: 151–165.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Diener, E., R. Inglehart & L. Tay, 2013: Theory and Validity of Life Satisfaction Scales. Social Indicators Research 112: 497–527.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Drobnič, S., 2000: The Effects of Children on Married and Lone Mothers’ Employment in the United States and (West) Germany. European Sociological Review 16: 137–157.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Durkheim, É., 2002 [1906]: Détermination du fait moral.

  • Ferrer-I-Carbonell, A. & P. Frijters, 2004: How Important Is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness? The Economic Journal 114: 641–659.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Ferrer-I-Carbonell, A. & X. Ramos, 2014: Inequality and Happiness. Journal of Economic Surveys 28: 1016–1027.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Firebaugh, G. & M. Schroeder, 2009: Does Your Neighbor’s Income Affect Your Happiness? American Journal of Sociology 115: 805–831.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Frijters, P., J. P. Haisken-Denew & M. A. Shields, 2004: Money Does Matter! Evidence from Increasing Real Income and Life Satisfaction in East Germany Following Reunification. The American Economic Review 94: 730–740.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Gash, V., A. Mertens & L. R. Gordo, 2012: The Influence of Changing Hours of Work on Women’s Life Satisfaction. The Manchester School 80: 51–74.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Gershuny, J., M. Bittman & J. Brice, 2005: Exit, Voice, and Suffering: Do Couples Adapt to Changing Employment Patterns? Journal of Marriage and Family 67: 656–665.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Gerson, K., 2009: Falling Back on Plan B: The Children of the Gender Revolution Face Uncharted Territory. S. 378–392 in: B.J. Risman (Hrsg.), Families as They Really Are. New York: Norton.

  • Gerson, K., 2016: Expansionist Theory Expanded: Integrating Sociological and Psychological Perspectives on Gender, Work, and Family Change. S. 111–119 in: S.M. McHale, V. King, J. Van Hook & A. Booth (Hrsg.), Gender and Couple Relationships. Cham: Springer.

  • Gielen, A. C. & J. C. Van Ours, 2014: Unhappiness and Job Finding. Economica 81: 544–565.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Goffman, E., 1956: The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Anchor/Doubleday.

  • Goffman, I. W., 1957: Status Consistency and Preference for Change In Power Distribution. American Sociological Review 22: 275–281.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Gornick, J. C. & M. K. Meyers, 2008: Creating Gender Egalitarian Societies: An Agenda for Reform. Politics & Society 36: 313–349.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Greenhaus, J. H. & G. N. Powell, 2006: When Work And Family Are Allies: A Theory Of Work-Family Enrichment. Academy of Management Review 31: 72–92.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Hakim, C., 2000: Work-Lifestyle Choices in the 21st Century. Preference Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Hakim, C., 2002: Lifestyle Preferences as Determinants of Women’s Differentiated Labor Market Careers. Work and Occupations 29: 428–459.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Hakim, C., 2003: A New Approach to Explaining Fertility Patterns: Preference Theory. Population and Development Review 29: 349–374.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Hakim, C., 2008: Is Gender Equality Legislation Becoming Counter-Productive? Public Policy Research 15: 133–136.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Haller, M. & M. Hadler, 2006: How Social Relations and Structures can Produce Happiness and Unhappiness: An International Comparative Analysis. Social Indicators Research 75(2): 169–216.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Headey, B., R. Muffels & G. Wagner, 2013: Choices Which Change Life Satisfaction: Similar Results for Australia, Britain and Germany. Social Indicators Research 112: 725–748.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Holst, E. & E. Trzcinski, 2003: High Satisfaction Among Mothers Who Work Part-time. Economic Bulletin 40: 327–332.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Kahneman, D. & A. B. Krueger, 2006: Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being. Journal of Economic Perspectives 20: 3–24.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Kahneman, D., E. Diener & N. Schwarz (Hrsg.), 2003: Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology. New York: Russel Sage.

  • Kelle, N., 2011: Wandel von Erwerbsbeteiligung westdeutscher Frauen nach der Erstgeburt – Ein Vergleich der zwischen 1936 und 1965 geborenen Kohorten. SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research. Berlin.

  • Knabe, A. & S. Rätzel, 2010: Income, Happiness, and the Disutility of Labour. Economics Letters 107: 77–79.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Kornrich, S., J. Brines & K. Leupp, 2013: Egalitarianism, Housework, and Sexual Frequency in Marriage. American Sociological Review 78: 26–50.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Export Citation
  • Marks, S. R., 1977: Multiple Roles and Role Strain: Some Notes on Human Energy, Time and Commitment. American Sociological Review 42: 921–936.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Parsons, T. & R. F. Bales, 1955: Family, Socialization and Interaction Process. Glencoe, ILL: Free Press.

  • Pedulla, D. S. & S. Thébaud, 2015: Can We Finish the Revolution? Gender, Work-Family Ideals, and Institutional Constraint. American Sociological Review 80: 116–139.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Export Citation
  • Pereira, M. C. & F. Coelho, 2012: Work Hours and Well Being: An Investigation of Moderator Effects. Social Indicators Research 111(1): 235–253.

  • Pollmann-Schult, M., 2008: Familiengründung und gewünschter Erwerbsumfang von Männern – Eine Längsschnittanalyse für die alten Bundesländer. Zeitschrift für Soziologie 37: 498–515.

  • Pollmann-Schult, M., 2009: Arbeitszeitwunsch und -wirklichkeit im Familienkontext. Eine Analyse der Diskrepanzen zwischen präferierter und tatsächlicher Arbeitszeit. Soziale Welt 60: 163–178.

  • Pollmann-Schult, M., 2014: Parenthood and Life Satisfaction: Why Don’t Children Make People Happy? Journal of Marriage and Family 76: 319–336.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Rätzel, S., 2012: Labour Supply, Life Satisfaction, and the (Dis)Utility of Work. The Scandinavian Journal of Economics 114: 1160–1181.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Schröder, C. & S. Yitzhaki, 2017: Revisiting the evidence for cardinal treatment of ordinal variables. European Economic Review 92: 337–358.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Schröder, M., 2016: How Income Inequality Influences Life Satisfaction: Hybrid Effects Evidence from the German SOEP. European Sociological Review 32: 307–320.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Schröder, M., 2017: Income Inequality and Life Satisfaction: Unrelated Between Countries, Associated Within Countries Over Time. Journal of Happiness Studies: 1–23 (Online First).

  • Spencer, D. A., 2003: Love’s Labor’s Lost? The Disutility of Work and Work Avoidance in the Economic Analysis of Labor Supply. Review of Social Economy 61: 235–250.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Treas, J., T. van der Lippe & T.-O. C. Tai, 2011: The Happy Homemaker? Married Women’s Well-Being in Cross-National Perspective. Social Forces 90: 111–132.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Treiman, D. J., 1977: Occupational Prestige in Comparative Perspective. New York: Academic Press.

  • Trzcinski, E. & E. Holst, 2012: Gender Differences in Subjective Well-Being In and Out of Management Positions. Social Indicators Research 107(3): 449–463.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Veenhoven, R., 2008: Sociological Theories of Subjective Well-Being. S. 44–61 in: M. Eid & R.J. Larsen (Hrsg.), The Science Of Subjective Well-Being: A Tribute to Ed Diener. New York: Guilford Publications.

Purchase article
Get instant unlimited access to the article.
$42.00
Log in
Already have access? Please log in.


or
Log in with your institution

Journal + Issues

The Zeitschrift für Soziologie publishes peer-reviewed articles from all areas of sociology, aiming to represent both the diversity of empirical research as well as the plurality of theoretical traditions. Founded in 1971, the journal aims to represent the discipline as comprehensively as possible, inviting contributions from sociologists regardless of their conceptual affinities and orientations.

Search