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Women's work interruptions and career prospects in Germany and Sweden

Marie Evertsson (Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)
Daniela Grunow (Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 31 August 2012




The purpose of this paper is to focus on two welfare state regimes with differing degrees of de‐familialisation strategies, Germany and Sweden, to study whether and how women's career interruptions influence their labour market prospects. By comparing women with continuous careers to those with discontinuous careers due to: parental leave or homemaking; unemployment; or other reasons, the authors explore the support for the skill depreciation hypothesis and signalling theory. Depending on the type of welfare state regime, the authors expect women to be subject to varying degrees of career punishment for time spent out of the labour market.


Cox proportional hazard regression models of the transition rate of an upward or downward occupational move among women in the labour market were estimated.


Focusing on upward career moves, the results show no significant relationship between a career interruption and upward occupational moves in Germany. In Sweden, the longer the accumulated duration of family leave, the lower the transition rate to an upward move. Overall occupational mobility is higher in Sweden, and in a policy regime where almost all women work, extended leaves may have a more negative effect on career prospects than in Germany, where many mothers drop out of the labour force altogether. In Germany, on the other hand, the authors find traces of unemployment to be scarring, as the risk of downward moves increases with increased unemployment experience.


The paper explores the impact of policies in shaping women's career trajectories and critically examines the often‐cited skill depreciation hypothesis.



Evertsson, M. and Grunow, D. (2012), "Women's work interruptions and career prospects in Germany and Sweden", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 32 No. 9/10, pp. 561-575.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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