Adult Workers in Theory or Practice? : Lone Mothers’ Participation in Active Labour Market Programmes in Germany

Cordula Zabel


This paper examines lone mothers’ participation in active labour market programmes in Germany. Since the 2005 Hartz IV employment and welfare policy reforms, expectations that non-em- ployed parents receiving means-tested benefits should be ready for employment or labour market programme participation have grown stronger. However, discretion for programme assignments is left to individual caseworkers. As a consequence, it is not clear to what extent the formal policy orientation towards an adult worker model of the family is reflected in practical policy implemen- tations. Thus, lone mothers’ participation in active labour market programmes is studied empiri- cally here on the basis of large-scale administrative data, using event-history analysis. Findings are that lone mothers are treated as adult workers with respect to workfare and training pro- grammes even when their children are still quite young. As soon as their youngest child is 3 - 5 years old, lone mothers’ transition rates into these programmes are as high as for childless single women. In the case of programmes that provide more direct pathways into regular employment, like job subsidies and in-firm training programmes, however, participation rates for lone mothers of young children are substantially lower than for childless single women.

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JCSW was founded in 2006 and is currently hosted by University of Stavanger, in cooperation with University of Agder and Nord University. From 2010 onwards it is published bi-anually.

ISSN: 0809-9936