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The Family Gap in Pay: Evidence from Seven Industrialised Countries

Listed author(s):
  • Susan Harkness
  • Jane Waldfogel
Registered author(s):

    In this paper we use microdata on employment and earnings from a variety of industrialised countries to investigate the family gap in pay - the differential in hourly wages between women with children and women without children. We present results from seven countries: Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Finland, and Sweden. We find that there is a good deal of variation across our sample countries in the effects of children on women's employment. We also find large differences in the effects of children on women's hourly wages even after controlling for differences between women with children and women without children in characteristics such as age and education. Among the seven countries we study here, the United Kingdom displays the largest wage penalties to children. The family gap in pay is larger in the U.K. than in other countries because of the higher propensity of U.K. mothers to work in low-paid part-time jobs but also because even among full-timers, women with children in the U.K. are lower paid relative to other women than are mothers in other countries. Why does the family gap in pay vary so much across countries? We find that the variation in the family gap in pay across countries is not primarily due to differential selection into employment or to differences in wage structure. We therefore suggest that future research should examine the impact of family policies such as maternity leave and child care on the family gap in pay.

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    Paper provided by Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE in its series CASE Papers with number 030.

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    Date of creation: Dec 1999
    Handle: RePEc:cep:sticas:030
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    1. 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 33-58, January.
    2. S. Adams & Tim Callan & Nina Smith & Shirley Dex & Siv Gustafsson & Jürgen Schupp, 1995. "Gender Wage Differentials: New Cross-Country Evidence," LIS Working papers 134, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    3. Susan Harkness, 1996. "The gender earnings gap: evidence from the UK," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 17(2), pages 1-36, May.
    4. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence Kahn, 1995. "The Gender Earnings Gap: Some International Evidence," NBER Chapters,in: Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, pages 105-144 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Rosholm, Michael & Smith, Nina, 1996. "The Danish Gender Wage Gap in the 1980s: A Panel Data Study," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(2), pages 254-279, April.
    6. Mincer, Jacob & Polachek, Solomon, 1974. "Family Investment in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages 76-108, Part II, .
    7. Jane Waldfogel, 1998. "Understanding the "Family Gap" in Pay for Women with Children," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 137-156, Winter.
    8. David Neumark & Sanders Korenman, 1994. "Sources of Bias in Women's Wage Equations: Results Using Sibling Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 379-405.
    9. James W. Albrecht & Per-Anders Edin & Marianne Sundström & Susan B. Vroman, 1999. "Career Interruptions and Subsequent Earnings: A Reexamination Using Swedish Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(2), pages 294-311.
    10. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
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