1994 volume 26(8) pages 1257 – 1276

Cite as:
Quack S, Maier F, 1994, "From state socialism to market economy -- women's employment in East Germany" Environment and Planning A 26(8) 1257 – 1276

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From state socialism to market economy -- women's employment in East Germany

S Quack, F Maier

Received 6 July 1993; in revised form 9 September 1993

Abstract. The transformation from a centrally planned economy to a market economy involves a wide-ranging redistribution of paid employment, income, and individual opportunities. Men and women in the former East Germany (GDR) -- who before reunification had equal roles of participation in paid labour -- have been affected in different ways by the restructuring of the East German economy. Women are now more often unemployed, and for longer periods, and face greater difficulties in finding a job. In order to explain these differences between men and women, the authors investigate the economic, social, and political dimensions of the transformation process. The main argument is that economic and social disadvantages affecting East German women are not just related to the economic and political transformation as such. Rather, they are rooted in a traditional gender division of paid work in the former GDR which was reinforced by the paternalistic family and social policy developed by the East German state. At the same time, however, East German women's experiences of being fully integrated into employment, and enjoying greater economic independence, make it unlikely that they will easily accept the West German model of partial labour-market integration.

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