Project 3 

​ Intergenerational Transmission of Work-Family Trajectories in Germany 

This project compares work- family trajectories of parents born in Germany between 1930 and 1949 with those of their adult children (born 1958-1981) and siblings' work- family and socio- economic status (SES) trajectories using the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). We aim to investigate the contributions of inter- and intragenerational similarity or divergence in trajectory patterns on the reconfiguration of social structure in Germany after reunification. Work- family trajectories refer to sequences of marital status, parenthood, and the gendered division of labor. SES trajectories are sequences of educational attainment, occupational status, and income. We ask: 1) Under what conditions have sons and daughters reproduced or deviated from their fathers' and mothers' work- family trajectories? 2) Under what conditions are siblings' work- family and SES trajectories similar or different? Similarity in work- family and SES trajectories within and across generations depends partly on support from existing social structure. Tremendous recent economic, demographic, and cultural shifts in Germany suggest that children may not replicate parents' life course trajectories and resulting positions in the social structure, and that siblings may live very different life courses, with East-West differences likely. 

To compare trajectories, we attend to features such as movement or the lack thereof, the direction of movement, the sequence and timing of events and states, and rates of change. These features tell us how individuals move through and alter the social structure, not simply about the positions they occupy in it at certain times. We want to understand the reconfiguration of socio- structural dimensions of gender and SES in Germany in recent decades by highlighting the conditions that contribute to inter- and intragenerational dynamics in the Eastern and Western parts of Germany. 

For our empirical analysis, we use the SOEP: longitudinal survey data from a representative sample of about 11,000 German households and more than 20,000 persons. SOEP is well- suited for comparing parents and children and siblings because it allows survey respondents from two generations and siblings within one family to be linked and tracked longitudinally. To compare mother- daughter / father- son pairs, we employ data on children's employment and family history with retrospective data on employment and family history from their parents. To compare siblings, we employ data from individuals in the SOEP who were born in the same household to the same parents. Data on both Eastern and Western Germany is available starting in 1990; we draw on data from that year to the present and use retrospective data for earlier decades.