Marriage migration and women's entry into the German labour market




female employment, event history, Germany, migration, labor market


Objective: We analyse the employment patterns of childless first-generation migrants to Germany. In particular, we focus on the behaviour of female "marriage migrants". Marriage migrants are defined as individuals who married after their spouse had moved to Germany.

Background: Demographic studies have illustrated that marriage migrants have particularly high childbirth rates upon arrival. There is, however, little empirical evidence on how the childbearing behaviour of migrant women is related to their employment behaviour.

Method: We use event history techniques to study women's labour market entry after migration in relation to their childbearing behaviour. We draw on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP). The analytical sample is restricted to immigrant women who moved while childless to Germany between 1990 and 2016 (n=981).

Results: Compared to other groups, marriage migrants have very low chances of entering the labour market. Only 32 per cent of the migrants in our sample had ever participated in the labour market in the five-year period after their arrival in Germany. A large share of the differences between these migrants and other migrants can be attributed to the socio-demographic composition of these women, and to their tendency to transition to parenthood soon after their arrival.

Conclusion: We argue that the low employment rates of female marriage migrants must also be viewed in the context of Germany’s migration policies, which do not provide many routes for female third-country nationals to move to Germany. One of the few available channels is that of marriage migration. We conclude by discussing the social policy implications of these findings at a time when Germany is gradually becoming a dual-earner society.


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How to Cite

Cristina Samper, & Kreyenfeld, M. (2021). Marriage migration and women’s entry into the German labour market. Journal of Family Research, 33(2), 439–466.