The Motherhood Wage Gap for Women in the United States: The Importance of College and Fertility Delay
One of the stylised facts from the past thirty years has been the declining rate of first births before age 30 for all women and the increase rate of first births after age 30 among women with four-year college degrees (Martin 2000). What are some of the factors behind women’s decision to postpone their childbearing? We hypothesize that the wage difference often observed between like-educated mothers and non-mothers (Waldfogel 1998) may be affected by the postponement of childbearing until after careers are fully established. We use individual-level data on women from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and find that: (a) College-educated mothers do not experience a motherhood wage penalty at all, and (b) fertility delay enhances their earnings opportunities even further.
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