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Motherhood and women's earnings in Anglo-American, Continental European, and Nordic Countries


  • Wendy Sigle-Rushton
  • Jane Waldfogel


The earnings of mothers make up an important, but difficult to quantify, component of parental expenditures on children. This paper compares the long-term earnings of women with children, women without children, and men. The study conducts separate analyses for less educated, moderately educated, and highly educated people in eight Anglo-American, Continental European, and Nordic countries. The study finds that, for the most part, these countries cluster into three groups, with mothers in the Continental European group experiencing the largest earnings differentials, mothers in the Nordic group experiencing the smallest, and mothers in the Anglo-American countries occupying the middle position.

Suggested Citation

  • Wendy Sigle-Rushton & Jane Waldfogel, 2007. "Motherhood and women's earnings in Anglo-American, Continental European, and Nordic Countries," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(2), pages 55-91.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:13:y:2007:i:2:p:55-91 DOI: 10.1080/13545700601184849

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Colander & Joanna Wayland Woos, 1997. "Institutional Demand-Side Discrimination Against Women and the Human Capital Model," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(1), pages 53-64.
    2. McCloskey,Deirdre N., 1994. "Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521436038, March.
    3. McCloskey,Deirdre N., 1994. "Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521434751, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Luis Gamboa & Blanca Zuluaga, 2013. "Is There a Motherhood Penalty? Decomposing the Family Wage Gap in Colombia," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 34(4), pages 421-434, December.
    2. repec:spr:demogr:v:54:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s13524-017-0621-z is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Olivier Thévenon & Angela Luci, 2012. "Reconciling Work, Family and Child Outcomes: What Implications for Family Support Policies?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 31(6), pages 855-882, December.
    4. Cadsby, C. Bram & Servátka, Maroš & Song, Fei, 2013. "How competitive are female professionals? A tale of identity conflict," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 284-303.
    5. Christian Nsiah & Ron DeBeaumont & Annette Ryerson, 2013. "Motherhood and Earnings: Wage Variability by Major Occupational Category and Earnings Level," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 224-234, June.
    6. Javier García-Manglano, 2015. "Opting Out and Leaning In: The Life Course Employment Profiles of Early Baby Boom Women in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(6), pages 1961-1993, December.
    7. Liana C. Sayer & Lynn Prince Cooke, 2012. "The Context of Relative Equality: Comparing Educational Gradients in the Gendered Division of Labor in Three Liberal Markets," LIS Working papers 578, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    8. Nizalova, Olena Y. & Sliusarenko, Tamara, 2013. "Motherhood Wage Penalty in Times of Transition," IZA Discussion Papers 7810, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Li Ma, 2014. "Economic crisis and women’s labor force return after childbirth: Evidence from South Korea," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 31(18), pages 511-552, August.
    10. repec:ilo:ilowps:487376 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Nizalova, Olena Y. & Sliusarenko, Tamara & Shpak, Solomiya, 2016. "The motherhood wage penalty in times of transition," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 56-75.
    12. Grimshaw, Damian. & Rubery, Jill., 2015. "The motherhood pay gap : a review of the issues, theory and international evidence," ILO Working Papers 994873763402676, International Labour Organization.
    13. Adema, Willem, 2012. "Setting the scene: The mix of family policy objectives and packages across the OECD," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 487-498.

    More about this item


    Earnings; gender; labor market; motherhood; JEL Codes: J18; J1; J;

    JEL classification:

    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics


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