Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Wage gaps and maternity

Another for the "the gender wage gap has less to do with sexist employers and more to do with productivity characteristics" file: having children reduces the intensity of market work. In a nice study on Norwegian data, where effects are identified by comparing against women who had miscarriages, women having children see earnings reductions of 16%, driven mostly by reductions in the number of hours worked rather than by labour force exit. HT: Ole Rogeberg
We find that each of the first children has a large impact on female earnings, which on average are reduced by 16%. The largest decrease in earnings are driven by women with average earnings reducing their labor supply and thereby earn less. There are small effects on earnings for those who are marginally employed or women in the higher end of the earnings distribution. Labor force participation is not affected much by having children, indicating that in the Norwegian context, the combination of market work and family obligations is clearly feasible. The intensity of market work is however reduced. Women work on average 2 hours less per week per child, and the effect does not decrease (much) when the child grows older. Motherhood therefore plays a significant role in explaining female part-time work. We find no evidence of an adverse health effect of having children as neither sickness absence not disability seem to increase due to motherhood.
Since they're identifying on the difference between women having miscarriages and those with successful births, the estimates will be the partial effect of having had a child rather than the total effect of both preparing to have had a child (perhaps reducing investment in on-the-job training) and of having the child. The total effect will be larger.


1 comment:

  1. Nice study. I recall a similar one some years ago looking at teen parents who gave birth versus teen parents who miscarried (but who may have given birth years later). Showed little difference in outcomes (either for the mothers or for children when comparing apples with apples - but such a study has not stopped dozens of people from saying teen births are "bad".