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Child Penalties Across Countries: Evidence and Explanations


  • Henrik Kleven
  • Camille Landais
  • Johanna Posch
  • Andreas Steinhauer
  • Josef Zweimüller


This paper provides evidence on child penalties in female and male earnings in different countries. The estimates are based on event studies around the birth of the first child, using the specification proposed by Kleven et al. (2018). The analysis reveals some striking similarities in the qualitative effects of children across countries, but also sharp differences in the magnitude of the effects. We discuss the potential role of family policies (parental leave and child care provision) and gender norms in explaining the observed differences.

Suggested Citation

  • Henrik Kleven & Camille Landais & Johanna Posch & Andreas Steinhauer & Josef Zweimüller, 2019. "Child Penalties Across Countries: Evidence and Explanations," NBER Working Papers 25524, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25524
    Note: CH LS PE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Claudia Olivetti & Barbara Petrongolo, 2017. "The Economic Consequences of Family Policies: Lessons from a Century of Legislation in High-Income Countries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 205-230, Winter.
    2. Bertrand, Marianne, 2011. "New Perspectives on Gender," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.),Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 17, pages 1543-1590, Elsevier.
    3. Nikolay Angelov & Per Johansson & Erica Lindahl, 2016. "Parenthood and the Gender Gap in Pay," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(3), pages 545-579.
    4. Henrik Kleven & Camille Landais & Jakob Egholt Søgaard, 2019. "Children and Gender Inequality: Evidence from Denmark," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 181-209, October.
    5. Claudia Olivetti & Barbara Petrongolo, 2017. "The Economic Consequences of Family Policies: Lessons from a Century of Legislation," Working Papers 811, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
    6. Ilyana Kuziemko & Jessica Pan & Jenny Shen & Ebonya Washington, 2018. "The Mommy Effect: Do Women Anticipate the Employment Effects of Motherhood?," NBER Working Papers 24740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Child penalty to earnings
      by Inaki Villanueva in Applied economist on 2019-05-07 10:39:00


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    Cited by:

    1. Tabea Bucher-Koenen & Helmut Farbmacher & Raphael Guber & Johan Vikström, 2020. "Double Trouble: The Burden of Child-rearing and Working on Maternal Mortality," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 57(2), pages 559-576, April.
    2. Becker, Sascha O. & Fernandes, Ana & Weichselbaumer, Doris, 2019. "Discrimination in hiring based on potential and realized fertility: Evidence from a large-scale field experiment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 139-152.
    3. Johnsen, Julian Vedeler & Ku, Hyejin & Salvanes, Kjell G, 2020. "Competition and Career Advancement: The Hidden Costs of Paid Leave," CEPR Discussion Papers 15157, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Sarah Louise Jewell & Giovanni Razzu & Carl Singleton, 2020. "Who Works for Whom and the UK Gender Pay Gap," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 58(1), pages 50-81, March.
    5. -, 2020. "Brechas de género en los ingresos laborales en el Uruguay," Coediciones, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), number 45792 edited by Cepal.
    6. Fuchs-Schündeln, Nicola & Kuhn, Moritz & Tertilt, Michèle, 2020. "The Short-Run Macro Implications of School and Child-Care Closures," IZA Discussion Papers 13353, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. 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.
    8. Gallego Granados, Patricia & Wrohlich, Katharina, 2019. "Selection into Employment and the Gender Wage Gap across the Distribution and over Time," IZA Discussion Papers 12859, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Petrongolo, Barbara & Ronchi, Maddalena, 2020. "Gender gaps and the structure of local labor markets," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).
    10. Roth, Anja, 2019. "How the provision of childcare affects attitudes towards maternal employment," Working papers 2019/22, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    11. Farré, Lídia & Jofre-Monseny, Jordi & Torrecillas, Juan, 2020. "Commuting Time and the Gender Gap in Labor Market Participation," IZA Discussion Papers 13213, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Deepak Malghan & Hema Swaminathan, 2020. "Inside the Black Box: Intra-household Inequality and a Gendered Pandemic," LIS Working papers 797, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    13. Bütikofer, Aline & Løken, Katrine V. & Willen, Alexander, 2019. "Building Bridges and Widening Gaps: Efficiency Gains and Equity Concerns of Labor Market Expansions," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 19/2019, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    14. Bönke, Timm & Glaubitz, Rick & Göbler, Konstantin & Harnack, Astrid & Pape, Astrid & Wetter, Miriam, 2020. "Die Entwicklung und Prognose von Lebenserwerbseinkommen in Deutschland," Discussion Papers 2020/5, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    15. Bütikofer, Aline & Loken, Katrine Vellesen & Willén, Alexander, 2020. "Building Bridges and Widening Gaps: Wage Gains and Equity Concerns of Labor Market Expansions," IZA Discussion Papers 12885, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    16. Boschini, Anne & Gunnarsson, Kristin & Roine, Jesper, 2020. "Women in top incomes – Evidence from Sweden 1971–2017," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 181(C).
    17. Elira Kuka & Na'ama Shenhav, 2020. "Long-Run Effects of Incentivizing Work After Childbirth," NBER Working Papers 27444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Barbara Boelmann & Anna Raute & Uta Schönberg, 2020. "Wind of Change? Cultural Determinants of Maternal Labor Supply," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 2020, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    19. Inés Berniell & Lucila Berniell & Dolores de la Mata & María Edo & Mariana Marchionni, 2019. "Gender Gaps in Labor Informality: The Motherhood Effect," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0247, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    20. Fontenay, Sébastien & Tojerow, Ilan, 2020. "Work Disability after Motherhood and How Paternity Leave Can Help," IZA Discussion Papers 13756, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    21. Sarah H. Bana & Kelly Bedard & Maya Rossin‐Slater, 2020. "The Impacts of Paid Family Leave Benefits: Regression Kink Evidence from California Administrative Data," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 39(4), pages 888-929, September.
    22. Felix Busch, 2020. "Gender Segregation, Occupational Sorting, and Growth of Wage Disparities Between Women," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 57(3), pages 1063-1088, June.
    23. Danielle Sandler & Nichole Szembrot, 2019. "Maternal Labor Dynamics: Participation, Earnings, and Employer Changes," Working Papers 19-33, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    24. David Koll & Dominik Sachs & Fabian Stuermer-Heiber & Helene Turon, 2019. "The fiscal return to childcare policies," 2019 Meeting Papers 1081, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • 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
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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