Second Major



Devine, Theresa

Advisor Department





United States, Germany, Labor, Women, Leave, Policies

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.


In terms of per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and many other measures, the United States and Germany are both economic leaders in the global world. However, gender gaps persist in the labor markets of both countries. This paper examines these gender gaps and various labor market policies that are intended to reduce them. The policies examined include gender equality policies and family-oriented policies in the two countries. Over the last few decades, most of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries have experienced low and decreasing birth rates. In response, several countries have introduced parental leave regulations to make the combination of parenthood and a working career more appealing, especially to women. Germany implemented a new family leave policy called “Elterngeld” in 2007 and also passed a gender quota law for the private sector in 2014. In contrast, the United States has no national statutory maternity leave policy and relatively few policies. This paper elaborates on these labor and family policies and interprets the nations’

labor market data in their light. The paper analyzes a variety of data for women in the United States and Germany, including: unemployment rates, relative wage rates, labor force participation rates, occupational distribution, birth rates, and available childcare. Data from various sources, including the OECD, are also presented to give general background on both countries’ economic status, histories, and policies. This paper reviews the economics literature on the effects of family-oriented policies. This paper then concludes with a discussion of how if these countries choose to improve their policies to assist both women and families, it would aid the country and not significantly hinder it. Leave policies have not been shown to have a significant effect on firms and if less than one year, can improve job continuity for women.