IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Wives, Mothers and Wages: Does Timing Matter?


  • Drolet, Marie


Current trends in marriage and fertility patterns suggest that young Canadian women are delaying family formation and concentrating on developing their careers. Using data from the 1998 Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics, this study provides Canadian evidence on the effect of marital status and parenthood status on the wage rates of Canadian women. As well, this paper attempts to determine whether decisions regarding the timing of family formation influence the wages of women and whether these decisions have a permanent or temporary impact on earnings. The main results of the paper are as follows. After controlling for differences in work history, labour force qualifications and selected job characteristics, the cross sectional analysis suggests that there is no association between marital status and wages while the evidence on the relationship between wages and motherhood is mixed. When controls for years with children were included, there is a positive association of motherhood with wages that persists in the early years of motherhood but declines as the number of years with children lengthens. These results support the specialization, selection, differential treatment by employers and the work effort explanations for differences in the wages of mothers relative to other women. There is no such finding for married women and the duration of marriage. It is a well-documented fact that the acquisition of job-related skills and significant wage growth is concentrated at the start of workers' careers - which generally coincides with decisions regarding marriage and children. If this is the case, then the timing of marriage and children may be considered proxies for omitted, unobserved characteristics, related to human capital skills, differentiated work history or labour force attachment. Conforming to theoretical expectations when the timing of children is taken into account, women that postpone having children earn at least 6.0% more than women who have children early. There is no significant association between the timing of marriage and wages. The observed relationship between women's wages and their decision to delay having children tends to persist after the birth of their first child but tends to decline over time. Thus, augmented family responsibilities will tend to reduce any initial wage differentials based on delays of assuming these responsibilities.

Suggested Citation

  • Drolet, Marie, 2002. "Wives, Mothers and Wages: Does Timing Matter?," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2002186e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  • Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:2002186e

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sanders Korenman & David Neumark, 1992. "Marriage, Motherhood, and Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(2), pages 233-255.
    2. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1990. "Empirical Age-Earnings Profiles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(2), pages 202-229, April.
    3. 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, .
    4. Sanders Korenman & David Neumark, 1991. "Does Marriage Really Make Men More Productive?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(2), pages 282-307.
    5. 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.
    6. Alice Nakamura & Masao Nakamura, 1994. "Predicting Female Labor Supply: Effects of Children and Recent Work Experience," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 304-327.
    7. Kenny, Lawrence W, 1983. "The Accumulation of Human Capital during Marriage by Males," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 21(2), pages 223-231, April.
    8. Blackburn, McKinley L & Bloom, David E & Neumark, David, 1993. "Fertility Timing, Wages, and Human Capital," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 6(1), pages 1-30.
    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. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Jean Kimmel, 2005. "“The Motherhood Wage Gap for Women in the United States: The Importance of College and Fertility Delay”," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 17-48, September.
    2. Statistics Canada, 2008. "The Post-childbirth Employment of Canadian Mothers and the Earnings Trajectories of Their Continuously Employed Counterparts, 1983 to 2004," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2008314e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    3. Statistics Canada, 2006. "Why Did Employment and Earnings Rise Among Lone Mothers During the 1980s and 1990s?," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2006282e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.


    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:stc:stcp3e:2002186e. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

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

    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 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.

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.