IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Child Penalties and Financial Incentives: Exploiting Variation along the Wage distribution


  • Pierre PORA


  • Lionel WILNER



We relate women's labor earnings losses due to motherhood to their prechildbirth rank in the distribution of hourly wages. Using French administrative data, we show that these \child penalties" decrease steeply along the distribution; by contrast, the related hourly wage losses are fairly homogeneous. Low-wage mothers opt out of the labor market or reduce their working hours more frequently; the magnitude of such responses is consistently monotonic along the distribution. This empirical evidence highlights the relevance of financial incentives and suggests that child penalties arise from decisions based on specialization gains rather than on gender differences in preferences or on gender norms.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre PORA & Lionel WILNER, 2019. "Child Penalties and Financial Incentives: Exploiting Variation along the Wage distribution," Working Papers 2019-17, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
  • Handle: RePEc:crs:wpaper:2019-17

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: CREST working paper version
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1980. "Life-Cycle Labor Supply and Fertility: Causal Inferences from Household Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 328-348, April.
    2. Olivier Bargain & Augustin Vicard, 2014. "Le RMI et son successeur le RSA découragent-ils certains jeunes de travailler ? Une analyse sur les jeunes autour de 25 ans," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 467(1), pages 61-89.
    3. Joseph, Olivier & Pailhé, Ariane & Recotillet, Isabelle & Solaz, Anne, 2013. "The economic impact of taking short parental leave: Evaluation of a French reform," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 63-75.
    4. A. Bauer & B. Garbinti & S. Georges-Kot, 2018. "Financial Constraints and Self-Employment in France, 1945-2014," Documents de Travail de l'Insee - INSEE Working Papers g2018-08, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques.
    5. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, July.
    6. Dominique Meurs & Ariane Pailhe & Sophie Ponthieux, 2010. "Child-related Career Interruptions and the Gender Wage Gap in France," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 99-100, pages 15-46.
    7. Ariane Pailhé & Anne Solaz & Maxime Tô, 2018. "Can daddies learn how to change nappies? Evidence from a short paternity leave policy," Working Papers 240, French Institute for Demographic Studies.
    8. David Card & Ana Rute Cardoso & Patrick Kline, 2016. "Bargaining, Sorting, and the Gender Wage Gap: Quantifying the Impact of Firms on the Relative Pay of Women," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 131(2), pages 633-686.
    9. 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.
    10. Laurent Gobillon & Dominique Meurs & Sébastien Roux, 2015. "Estimating Gender Differences in Access to Jobs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 317-363.
    11. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    12. Emily Nix & Martin Eckhoff Andresen, 2019. "What Causes the Child Penalty? Evidence from Same Sex Couples and Policy Reforms," Discussion Papers 902, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    13. Chinhui Juhn & Kristin McCue, 2017. "Specialization Then and Now: Marriage, Children, and the Gender Earnings Gap across Cohorts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 183-204, Winter.
    14. Givord, Pauline & Marbot, Claire, 2015. "Does the cost of child care affect female labor market participation? An evaluation of a French reform of childcare subsidies," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 99-111.
    15. Bütikofer, Aline & Jensen, Sissel & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2018. "The role of parenthood on the gender gap among top earners," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 103-123.
    16. Wiji Arulampalam & Alison L. Booth & Mark L. Bryan, 2007. "Is There a Glass Ceiling over Europe? Exploring the Gender Pay Gap across the Wage Distribution," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(2), pages 163-186, January.
    17. Campagne, Benoît & Poissonnier, Aurélien, 2018. "Structural reforms in DSGE models: Output gains but welfare losses," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 397-421.
    18. Marianne Bertrand & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2010. "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 228-255, July.
    19. Angrist, Joshua D & Evans, William N, 1998. "Children and Their Parents' Labor Supply: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 450-477, June.
    20. Elise Coudin & Sophie Maillard & Maxime Tô, 2018. "Family, Firms and the Gender Wage Gap in France," Working Papers 2018-09, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
    21. Pauline Charnoz & Elise Coudin & Mathilde Gaini, 2011. "Changes in the French Wage Distribution 1976-2004 : Inequalities within and between Education and Experience Groups," Working Papers 2011-23, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
    22. repec:adr:anecst:y:2010:i:99-100:p:02 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Nina Smith & Mette Verner, 2008. "PERSPECTIVE ARTICLE: The impact of Nordic countries’ family friendly policies on employment, wages, and children," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 65-89, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Francesca Barigozzi & Helmuth Cremer & Emmanuel Thibault, 2023. "The Motherhood Wage and Income Traps," CESifo Working Paper Series 10380, CESifo.
    2. Artmann, Elisabeth & Oosterbeek, Hessel & van der Klaauw, Bas, 2022. "Household specialization and the child penalty in the Netherlands," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    3. Stephen Bazen & Xavier Joutard & Hélène Périvier, 2021. "Measuring the Child Penalty Early in a Career," SciencePo Working papers Main hal-03451099, HAL.
    4. Bazen, Stephen & Joutard, Xavier & Périvier, Hélène, 2021. "Measuring the Child Penalty Early in a Career: The Case of Young Adults in France," IZA Discussion Papers 14763, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Pierre Pora, 2020. "Keep Working and Spend Less? Collective Childcare and Parental Earnings in France," Working Papers hal-04159681, HAL.
    6. Alicia Quinto & Laura Hospido & Carlos Sanz, 2021. "The child penalty: evidence from Spain," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 585-606, December.
    7. Simon Rabaté & Sara Rellstab, 2022. "What Determines the Child Penalty in the Netherlands? The Role of Policy and Norms," De Economist, Springer, vol. 170(2), pages 195-229, May.
    8. Simon Rabaté & Externe auteur: Sara Rellstab, 2021. "The Child Penalty in the Netherlands and its Determinants," CPB Discussion Paper 424, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Paweenawat, Sasiwimon Warunsiri & Liao, Lusi, 2022. "Parenthood penalty and gender wage gap: Recent evidence from Thailand," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    2. Simon Rabaté & Sara Rellstab, 2022. "What Determines the Child Penalty in the Netherlands? The Role of Policy and Norms," De Economist, Springer, vol. 170(2), pages 195-229, May.
    3. Albanesi, Stefania & Olivetti, Claudia & Petrongolo, Barbara, 2022. "Families, labor markets and policy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 118038, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Alessandra Casarico & Salvatore Lattanzio, 2023. "Behind the child penalty: understanding what contributes to the labour market costs of motherhood," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 36(3), pages 1489-1511, July.
    5. Strittmatter, Anthony & Wunsch, Conny, 2021. "The Gender Pay Gap Revisited with Big Data: Do Methodological Choices Matter?," Working papers 2021/05, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    6. A. Godzinski & M. Suarez Castillo, 2019. "Short-term health effects of public transport disruptions: air pollution and viral spread channels," Documents de Travail de l'Insee - INSEE Working Papers g2019-03, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques.
    7. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2017. "The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(3), pages 789-865, September.
    8. Sara Cools & Marte Strøm, 2016. "Parenthood wage penalties in a double income society," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 391-416, June.
    9. Gozde Corekcioglu & Marco Francesconi & Astrid Kunze, 2022. "Expansions in Paid Parental Leave and Mothers' Economic Progress," CESifo Working Paper Series 10028, CESifo.
    10. Roman Bobilev & Anne Boschini & Jesper Roine, 2020. "Women in the Top of the Income Distribution: What Can We Learn From LIS-Data?," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 6(1), pages 63-107, March.
    11. Sara Cools & Simen Markussen & Marte Strøm, 2017. "Children and Careers: How Family Size Affects Parents’ Labor Market Outcomes in the Long Run," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(5), pages 1773-1793, October.
    12. Fontenay, Sébastien & Tojerow, Ilan, 2020. "Work Disability after Motherhood and How Paternity Leave Can Help," IZA Discussion Papers 13756, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Cortes, Patricia & Pan, Jessica, 2020. "Children and the Remaining Gender Gaps in the Labor Market," IZA Discussion Papers 13759, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Gilbert Cette & Lorraine Koehl & Thomas Philippon, 2019. "The Labor Share in the Long Term: A Decline?," Economie et Statistique / Economics and Statistics, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques (INSEE), issue 510-511-5, pages 35-51.
    15. Benjamin Bennett & Isil Erel & Léa H. Stern & Zexi Wang, 2020. "Paid Leave Pays Off: The Effects of Paid Family Leave on Firm Performance," NBER Working Papers 27788, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Katie Meara & Francesco Pastore & Allan Webster, 2020. "The gender pay gap in the USA: a matching study," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 33(1), pages 271-305, January.
    17. Cemal Eren Arbath & Quamral H. Ashraf & Oded Galor & Marc Klemp, 2018. "Diversity and Conflict," Working Papers 2018-6, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    18. repec:hal:spmain:info:hdl:2441/3t1fcs7p369jmaalnboqhpgknn is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Do, Quy-Toan & Levchenko, Andrei A. & Raddatz, Claudio, 2016. "Comparative advantage, international trade, and fertility," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 48-66.
    20. Carrasco, Raquel, 2001. "Binary Choice with Binary Endogenous Regressors in Panel Data: Estimating the Effect of Fertility on Female Labor Participation," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 19(4), pages 385-394, October.

    More about this item


    Gender pay gap; child penalties; labor supply; difference-in-difference; wage distribution.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:crs:wpaper:2019-17. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Secretariat General (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.