Income inequality is really a religious problem

The development of income inequality between women and men in Germany from 1991 to 2017

1. Introduction

The fact that women earn less on average than men is a widespread and well-known phenomenon (Ridgeway, 2011). This work sheds light on the development of the adjusted and unadjusted gender pay gap in the period from 1991 to 2017 (Blau & Kahn 2007). The thesis focuses on the development of the pay gap between women and men in Germany, taking into account the breadth of theoretical and empirical literature on the topic, a brief overview of the European country comparison based on the Esping-Andersen typology (1990) of welfare states . Critics argue that Esping-Andersen's breadwinner approach can explain part of the gender pay gap and that processes of social modernization reproduce the gender-specific division of labor (Lewis & Ostner, 1994; Ostner 1995; Pfau-Effinger, 2001).

Theoretically, the underlying meritocratic labor market model is also used and analyzed to what extent it can explain the wage difference between women and men (Bell, 1974; Turner, 1960; Ullrich, 2005; Krell & Tondorf, 1997).

The sociological approach to gender-specific segregation on the labor market is then used to explain the gender pay gap. The devaluation hypothesis postulates a general devaluation of female work, also within a professional group. (England, 1992; Auspurg & Hinz, 2017). It is assumed that gender-specific occupational segregation can explain a significant part of the gender pay gap (England 1982; England et al. 2000; Hinz & Gartner 2005; Beck-Gernsheim 1980).

The data base for the development of the unadjusted and adjusted gender pay gap in Germany is the Federal Statistical Office. While the unadjusted gender pay gap examines the pay gap between all employed women and men, the adjusted pay gap can be used to analyze the pay gap between women and men with comparable characteristics. This part is also referred to in the literature as the declared part of the wage gap and takes gender-specific characteristics into account, such as different weekly working hours, industries or employment experience (Boll & Lagemann, 2018). The declared part of the gender pay gap is by no means free from discrimination, but the adjusted pay gap cannot be equated with discrimination (Gallego Granados & Geyer 2013), since in practice it is hardly possible to identify all structural features that would be essential to explain income inequality to be taken into account in the statistics.1 The difference in pay results from the percentage pay gap in gross hourly wages between women and men. The scope and components of the pay gap change depending on the data and methods used. Consequently, the question of what proportion of the wage differential can be explained using observable characteristics depends on the sample examined, the available variables and the method used.

Data from the sample income and expenditure (EVS) (Bedau & Krause 1998; Becker et al. 2002; Becker & Hauser 2003) are used to analyze the gender pay gap. The calculations of the Federal Statistical Office on the gender pay gap are based on this data. Detailed information on the analysis of the gender-specific pay gap on the basis of the EVS is only available every five years, so that relevant data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) (Hans Böckler Foundation 2018; SOEP Wave 09-33) is suitable for supplementing the database. The component decomposition Oaxaca (1973) and Blinder (1973) is used here to illustrate the gender pay gap.

As an explanatory approach for the gender pay gap, empirical findings show that the proportion of women in occupations and the simultaneous cultural devaluation of jobs mainly carried out by women play an important role, whereby women are currently no longer uncommon in male-dominated occupational fields (England, 1992 ; England et al., 2000; Reskin, 1993).

The level of earnings can be traced back to the assignment of the profession to a “men's branch” or a “women's branch”, with typical female professions being characterized by lower and medium earnings compared to male professions, for example technical professions.

Another important explanation for the unadjusted gender pay gap is that women are still more likely than their male colleagues to be part-time or marginally employed (Vogel, 2009; Boll, 2010). In most cases, women work part-time and thus reduce working hours in order to be able to better combine family and work. This phenomenon has a significant impact on the gender pay gap. In addition to the influence of part-time work, career breaks are also decisive, as these still shape the lives of women and not those of men, even if women return to work more quickly nowadays (Boll & Leppin, 2014; Boll 2010; Frodermann et al ., 2018). However, the above factors explain only part of the wage gap between women and men. Another part remains unexplained and cannot be empirically explained as the effects of the factors mentioned. Discrimination against women in the labor market is cited as the cause of this unexplained part of the unequal, gender-based pay. In order to ensure a balanced distribution of paid and unpaid work between women and men, changes in social and cultural norms, thought patterns and behavior are essential. Politics has a crucial role to play here.

In order to investigate which factors have contributed to the development of the adjusted and the unadjusted gender pay gap over time, this thesis examines the hypothesis whether the introduction of the minimum wage in Germany on January 1, 2015 reduced the wage gap between women and men, since Women are represented more often on average in sectors and occupations that are likely to benefit from the minimum wage regulation. A sample of the SOEP representative for Germany (Boll et al. 2015) for 2012 is used.

In addition, the present work assumes that the gender pay gap will narrow in the coming years. The background to this assumption is the Entgelttransparenzgesetz, which came into force in July 2017 (Haan 2017). Women in Germany earn an average of 21 percent less than their male colleagues. Even if structural and individual factors are taken into account, there is still a wage gap of 6 percent. Since the gender pay gap fluctuated between 21 and 23 percent in the above-mentioned period, this law is intended to support women in the future, based on the implementation of company test procedures and an obligation to report on equality and equal pay, to claim their right to equal pay for comparable work.2

2 definitions

The question now arises as to why income inequality has risen continuously in almost all OECD countries since the 1970s (OECD, 2016) and what are the reasons for the different developments in income inequality. Several explanatory approaches can be found in the literature, the most important of which are now taken up in this work. Different definitions of inequality can be found in sociology. The present work is largely based on the definition of the lexicon for sociology (2011).

When collecting and analyzing income data, too, the selection of a suitable income term and the types of income it contains is a problem area. In order to make this more precise, the terms used in this work and how they are differentiated from other types and sizes are defined in more detail below.

2.1 Inequality

Forms of inequality are at the center of socio-political interest, which is why it is essential to define them in detail. The lexicon of sociology (Fuchs-Heinritz, 2011) describes social inequality as any type of participation in society or the disposal of socially relevant resources. In addition, social inequality is defined as the differentiation of the members of society according to socially relevant characteristics (education, income, assets, professional position, influence, reputation, living, working, leisure conditions, social security), with which hierarchical evaluations are also connected.3 In addition, inequality has to be defined on the basis of three criteria. On the one hand, inequality is felt when it comes to the distribution of goods that are scarce in that society. Besides the scarcity, the attractiveness of a good is another prerequisite for this. In addition, the duration of the inequality is used as a criterion for distinguishing between inequality. Systematic and continuous causes are at work here, such as unequal pay while temporary inequalities as a result of lottery wins are not taken into account.4

Inequality in the form of income inequality arises according to Kaufmann (1978) through state intervention in the primary income distribution, price or wage increases, within the market economy system.

The theories of social inequality, from Marx and his class model to analyzes of the present at the beginning of the 21st century, are manifold. So far, these traditional class or stratification models have been treated with the categories social class or social class. The new sociological term, social inequality, describes more far-reaching theories, which is why this generic term is preferred in the present work. In addition to vertical inequalities, which address social stratification or class structures, the term social inequality includes other forms of non-vertical differences. Gender- or age-related disparities as well as disadvantages on a religious or ethnic basis are included.5

It is therefore of crucial importance which problems and questions the individual models focus on. In contrast to classic class and layer structures, the social structure in modern models is rather thematized on the basis of aspects such as lifestyles, curricula vitae, milieus or social situations. Although these terms are now equated with the causes of social inequality, employment or the income associated with it still represents an important component. Krais and Maruani (2001) also agree that gender inequality is one of the central axes of social inequality in modern societies. Accordingly, this inequality in modern societies, which are characterized by markets and gainful employment, is still conveyed through the world of work.6 In almost all societies there is a definition and distribution of tasks, occupations and professions based on the binary opposition of female and male domains.7

In addition, the difference between inequality and social inequality is decisive. Social inequality exists when existing inequalities are socially changeable and socially conditioned. This includes inequalities that result from the process of social life and indicate collective situations. This includes inequalities in the areas of income, wealth, rights, education and housing. Non-social inequalities include differences in characteristics such as gender, age, appearance or intelligence. In the present work I will consider the interaction of the differences from these two areas.

2.2 Income terms

However, although there has been an increase in income inequality in almost all OECD countries (Bosch & Kalina, 2017; Atkinson, 2003), there are considerable differences in the extent of income inequality. These differences can be observed between primary and secondary incomes as well as between different countries.

Hauser (2003) differentiates between the terms market income, net household income and equivalised income. Market income, also known as primary income or gross earnings, on the one hand describes the earned income, property and business income of a person or household. It excludes the increase in assets not generated on the market, such as inheritances or gifts.8 This includes, among other things, employed or self-employed work and / or untaxed asset income or sub-letting income or the value of owner-occupied residential property. The performance of a household assessed on the market in relation to labor supply and capital is thus reflected. For this reason, government transfers, taxes or benefits in kind are not included in market income. However, the market income has little informative value, as it neither reflects the conditions in the market nor indicates the ultimately available amount of income.

If one assigns social transfers such as housing benefit, child benefit or tax and social contributions to market income, one speaks of net household income. Examples of this are wealth tax and employee contributions to pension, unemployment and long-term care insurance.9

By deducting voluntary health insurance payments and retirement benefits, it is possible to develop the net income of the self-employed into “disposable income”. In general, the lower the inequality in disposable income compared to inequality in market income, the greater the redistributive effect achieved by state intervention (Conference of European Statisticians, 2001).

The focus is not necessarily on the individual recipient of the income. From the point of view of welfare theory, reference is preferably made to private households. We are talking about equivalised income. This describes the needs-weighted net household income according to the size and composition of the household. When examining the income situation, one starts from the basic idea that households are economic communities and that household members pool their income and earn their living from a common budget. The decisive factor here is that every member receives the same benefit from this income. This also enables the differentiated income needs of adults and children to be taken into account. Because because of the cost savings through living together in one household and because of the lower need for children, a simple weighting according to the number of household members would be unrealistic.10 Equivalence scales developed by the OECD are used for the conversion and a factor is assigned to each household member.11 1 is assigned to the first adult, the caregiver in multi-person households. Other household members aged 15 and over are weighted with 0.7 and children under 15 with 0.5.12 The Federal Statistical Office's calculations are based on gross income after deducting social transfers and taxes (Federal Statistical Office, 2018).

3 Concepts of Inequality - Theories on the Mechanisms of Gender-Specific Pay

The breadwinner model cited by Esping-Andersen has been seen as the main cause of gender inequality in modern welfare states since the beginning of feminist social policy research, although the traditional breadwinner model is increasingly being called into question in the public debate.13 At the same time, unpaid care work becomes the basis of gender-specific aspects of employment development.

In the following, Esping-Andersen's attitudes towards gender roles and the continued existence of traditional gender-specific family division of labor are examined. Then the criticism of Ostner and Pfau-Effinger is dealt with, who do not deny the success of an equalization of the social roles of women and men under state socialism, but who doubt the strong transformation processes of the welfare states. In addition, the meritocratic social model and the devaluation hypothesis play an important role. Using the example of the discussion of these concepts, it should be shown that theoretical insights into the context of these basic ideas and the associated gender equality policy orientation can be a decisive measure for the practical implementation of equality.

3.1 The Esping-Andersen typology - effects of the breadwinner model on women's income

Now Gøsta Esping-Andersen's theory is brought closer. Esping-Andersen's book 'The three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism' formed the basis for a new typology of welfare states and their different systems in 1990. Esping-Andersen explores the fundamental question of what exactly makes a state a welfare state and which criteria are relevant for this. The following three approaches were of great importance for his investigations.These include the historical changes in state affairs, the distinction between the remainder of the state and the institutionalized welfare state, as well as the assessment of the theoretical selection criteria for determining a welfare state.

Furthermore, the welfare state guarantees its citizens social rights (Esping-Andersen, 1990). If the rights are granted on the basis of a general recognition as citizens and are not based on the performance of the individual, this results in a decommodification of the individual vis-à-vis the market. H. the citizen can survive in a welfare state, regardless of his or her productivity, and is independent of the market. The replacement of class affiliation goes hand in hand with this development. The newly won status as a citizen represents the new concept of social stratification. Esping-Andersen also emphasizes that the resources of the market are unevenly distributed. According to Esping-Andersen, the bourgeois class is the beneficiary class in this case. The working class, on the other hand, is favored in terms of the distribution of political resources, since it represents the numerically larger class in comparison. These use the power resources to influence and correct the inequality in distribution. The fundamental interest is the minimization of the commodification, i.e. to be freed from the compulsion to gain employment.

In addition, Esping-Andersen distinguishes between three producers of welfare. These include the market, the family and the state. Depending on how these three actors are structured, there are three different types of welfare state regimes: the liberal, the conservative and the social democratic regime. The performance of welfare states is analyzed on the basis of the relationship between the state and the market, the quality of social services and the influence of social policy on the distribution of power.

In the liberal regime, the market has a prominent position and is responsible for social security, since the state also supports private insurance companies. Welfare is generated by means of market income. The degree of decommodification is low and citizens are therefore heavily dependent on the market. At the same time, state benefits from the welfare state, such as unemployment or sickness benefits, only exist to a limited extent. Representatives of this type of welfare state are the USA, Canada and Australia.

The conservative welfare state regime is typical of Germany.14 Here, too, the market is of great importance, because social benefits depend very much on gainful employment. Nevertheless, the social policy is more extensive compared to the USA and thus reduces the influence of the market. The social policy of the state has the consequence of maintaining the status differences. In addition, due to the historical family image, the family plays an important role. In contrast to the liberal welfare state type, decommodification is higher in the conservative welfare state. Citizens are protected from the risks of the market primarily through social benefits.

Finally, there is the social democratic regime, which is an institutionalized welfare state. A dualism of market and state is out of the question here and social policy is very pronounced here. Thus it is characterized by a high degree of universalism on all levels. This basic type of the three welfare states provides basic security that is equally accessible to all. In order to avoid a division of the working class, the needs test is kept as low as necessary. As a result, the state will face immense costs. Women do not play the role of the disadvantaged here, but represent the result of an institutionalized power relationship between the sexes. Examples of this form of welfare state are Denmark, Sweden and Norway.15

The comparison of these welfare states makes it clear that material equality in the form of income and wealth equality is weighted differently as a socio-political goal and is to be positioned in relation to the social democratic conception of the welfare state than to the other welfare state regimes mentioned. The conservative welfare state, which is also assigned to Germany, accentuates the social security of a state.16 Leuze and Strauss (2009) state that marriage only has positive effects on men's income, while women earn less because of having children. This can be traced back to the breadwinner model mentioned above, the classic distribution of roles in society. The married men are responsible for the family breadwinner. Women, on the other hand, have to cut back on taking on care work.17

A repeated survey (Bauer et al., 2016) shows that, nonetheless, the total working time and the time division between gainful employment and family duties of couples have changed over time. While men worked an average of 38 hours per week and women around 18 hours per week at the beginning of the 1990s, ten years later this decrease for men by 6.5 hours per week and for women significantly more markedly by 1.5 hours.18 This development is possibly due to the general decline in paid working hours due to the implementation of a reduction in weekly working hours by the unions (WSI Tarifarchiv 2015). The small decline for women may be explained by the increasing participation of women in the labor market. Between 1991 and 2002 this rose from 61.5 percent to 64.1 percent. Since 2017, the proportion of employed men in Germany has risen to 68.9 and that of women has decreased to 56.9 percent. Weekly family working hours continue to shape women's lives, even if the average family working hours of the sexes have converged over time. (ILO Statistics and Databases, 2015). This is where there are opportunities to overcome traditional structures, which are one of the most important explanatory factors for the gender pay gap.

3.1.1 Feminist-critical theory of Ilona Ostner on Esping-Andersen's concept of the breadwinner model - welfare states and gender relations

Esping-Andersen's concept has been criticized by feminist social policy researchers because it takes too little account of the family and the gender dimension (Orloff, 1993; Lewis, 1992; Lewis & Ostner, 1994).

Ilona Ostner (1995) criticizes several parts of Esping-Andersen's theory and three-world system and presents alternative classification concepts that make these dimensions central topics. In these classification concepts, too, the welfare states Germany and Austria are described as conservative, as they are based on the strong breadwinner model of the family.19 Assessments of these welfare states agree with those of Esping-Andersen.

As already mentioned, on the one hand Ostner goes into the fact that Esping-Andersen's concept of the welfare state neither grants the family nor the provision of the family a dead weight. Esping-Andersen focuses on female gainful employment and thus on the market and state integration of women (Esping-Andersen, 1990). Accordingly, his typology largely deals with employed women or women who are dependent on their spouses and who benefit from their social services.20 According to Ostner (1995), benefits that are “earned” through gainful employment are presented as a kind of system that serves to maintain status differences. Ostner also complains about the aspect of decommodification. Decommodification poses a problem because it depends on gainful employment. Ostner (1995) is of the opinion that citizens first have to be commodified in order to benefit from the decommodified effects. The problem here is that women "do not or only incompletely [fulfill] the norm of continuous, full-time employment,"21 That is to say, most women cannot be commodified, since they rarely work full-time, and it is precisely these women that Esping-Andersen neglects in his concept.


1 Berger 2004, 3rd

2 see Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth, 2017).

3 Krause 2011, 709.

4 Ullrich 2005, 159.

5 Krause 2011, 764-765.

6 Krais and Maruani 2001, 18.

7 Krais and Maruani 2001, 29.

8 Becker & Hauser 2003, 57.

9 Becker & Hauser 2004 56.

10 Ullrich 2005, 158.

11 Ullrich 2005, 168.

12 Hauser 2003, 59.

13 Leitner 2004, 8.

14 Esping-Andersen 1990, 173.

15 Esping-Andersen, 1990, 45.

16 Ullrich 2005, 158.

17 Leuze & Strauss, 2009, 274.

18 Bauer et al., 2016, 13.

19 Lewis & Ostner 1994, 16; Leitner et al. 2003, 9.

20 Ostner 1995, 6.

21 Ostner 1995, 7.

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