This article provides a comparative analysis of the development of the gender wage gap in West Germany and Sweden during the period 1960-2006. Despite the economic similarities including broad social safety nets, the gap has developed differently since 1960. This analysis accounts for micro- and macroeconomic factors and politics and concludes that norms and traditions penetrate institutional settings and ensnare Germany in a cultural trap with regard to gender equality. While Sweden has moved to a two-earner model, German society expects mothers to stay at home. The micro analysis shows that family concerns (e.g., marriage and motherhood) decrease female income in Germany to a far greater extent than do such factors in Sweden, which can be explained in part by deeply held social attitudes.
culture gender wage gap Germany Sweden welfare state