East-West differences in experienced corporal punishment: Results of a representative German study
Due to the division of Germany into the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany following the Second World War, large parts of the population of today's Germany were socialized under different socio-economic, political, and legal conditions, which could possibly lead to different experiences with corporal punishment as a method of education. In this paper, we investigate whether being socialized in East or West Germany, respectively, had an influence on childhood experience of corporal punishment. The evaluation is based on a representative German survey (n = 2331) carried out in 2020. In order to investigate the dimensionality of the experience with corporal punishment, we used the method of multiple correspondence analysis. The structures which were discovered using multiple correspondence analysis were subsequently verified using confirmatory factor analyses. We then examined the influence of explanatory variables on different parental punishment styles in a structural equation model. Three main parental punishment styles were identified: non-corporal punishment, mild punishment, and severe punishment. Respondents who were socialized in East Germany had a lower probability of having experienced severe punishment and non-corporal punishment compared to those socialized in West Germany. Our analysis also showed that corporal punishment tended to be more frequently practiced by younger mothers and older fathers. The results of this study indicate that legal regulations regarding non-violent child-raising are not just symbolic, but do indeed have a measurable influence on the educational methods of parents.