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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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Paper provided by Centro de Estudios Andaluces in its series Economic Working Papers at Centro de Estudios Andaluces with number E2004/07.

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Length: 56 pages
Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cea:doctra:e2004_07
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  1. Derek Neal, 2004. "The Measured Black-White Wage Gap among Women Is Too Small," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages S1-S28, February.
  2. Deborah J. Anderson & Melissa Binder & Kate Krause, 2003. "The motherhood wage penalty revisited: experience, heterogeneity, work effort, and work-schedule flexibility," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(2), pages 273-294, January.
  3. Galor, Oded & Weil, David N, 1996. "The Gender Gap, Fertility, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 374-87, June.
  4. Sanders Korenman & David Neumark, 1990. "Marriage, Motherhood, and Wages," NBER Working Papers 3473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Iyigun, Murat F., 2000. "Timing of childbearing and economic growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 255-269, February.
  6. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1990. "Empirical Age-Earnings Profiles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(2), pages 202-29, April.
  7. V. Joseph Hotz & Seth G. Sanders & Susan Williams McElroy, 1999. "Teenage Childbearing and Its Life Cycle Consequences: Exploiting a Natural Experiment," NBER Working Papers 7397, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. McKinley L. Blackburn & David E. Bloom, 1990. "Fertility Timing, Wages, and Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 3422, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Drolet, Marie, 2002. "Wives, Mothers and Wages: Does Timing Matter?," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2002186e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  10. Patricia Apps & Ray Rees, 2010. "Fertility, Female Labor Supply and Public Policy," Working Papers id:2754, eSocialSciences.
  11. Renbao Chen & S. Morgan, 1991. "Recent Trends in the Timing of First Births in the United States," Demography, Springer, vol. 28(4), pages 513-533, November.
  12. Trude Lappegård, 2000. "New fertility trends in Norway," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 2(3), March.
  13. Becker, Gary S, 1985. "Human Capital, Effort, and the Sexual Division of Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages S33-58, January.
  14. Elizabeth M. Caucutt & Nezih Guner & John Knowles, 2002. "Why Do Women Wait? Matching, Wage Inequality, and the Incentives for Fertility Delay," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 815-855, October.
  15. Charles H. Mullin & Ping Wang, 2002. "The Timing of Childbearing among Heterogeneous Women in Dynamic General Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 9231, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Suzanne Duryea & Jere R. Behrman & Miguel Székely, 1999. "Decomposing Fertility Differences across World Regions and over Time: Is Improved Health More Important than Women's Schooling?," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6816, Inter-American Development Bank.
  17. Amalia Miller, 2011. "The effects of motherhood timing on career path," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 1071-1100, July.
  18. Joyce P. Jacobsen & James Wishart Pearce III & Joshua L. Rosenbloom, 2005. "Measuring the Effects of Childbearing on Labor Market Outcomes," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2005-002, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
  19. Siv Gustafsson, 2001. "Optimal age at motherhood. Theoretical and empirical considerations on postponement of maternity in Europe," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 225-247.
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