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Separate paths, same direction? De-standardization of male employment biographies in East and West Germany

Datum 11.03.2015

von Julia Simonson, Laura Romeu Gordo, Nadiya Kelle

Until the mid-1980s, labour markets in Germany were characterized by a high level of employment stability. Employment biographies of men were dominated by full-time employment in both East and West Germany and were hence quite similar in this respect, despite the two regions’ enormously different institutional settings. Since that time however, important changes have occurred. Labour markets have become more flexible, as have employment biographies. However, the process towards de-standardization and increased discontinuity in employment biographies began in East Germany later than it did in the West. East German change started namely in 1990, when the German Democratic Republic was incorporated into the Federal Republic of Germany. This study uses the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) to analyse how men’s employment patterns in Germany have changed over three different birth cohorts. Through the use of sequence analysis the authors not only observe an increase of non-standard episodes in such biographies, such as unemployment and part-time work, but also investigate whether employment biographies have on the whole become more discontinuous in nature. In addition, the authors analyse the main differences in trends observed in East as opposed to West Germany as a result of differing societal and economic changes. The results of this analysis show evidence of de-standardization in employment in both regions. However, this trend follows a separate path in each region, with the process being faster in East Germany than in the West.

J. Simonson, L. Romeu Gordo, N. Kelle (2015): Separate paths, same direction? De-standardization of male employment biographies in East and West Germany. In: Current Sociology. zur Publikation

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