The Part-Time Pay Penalty: Earnings Trajectories of British Women
Posted: 21 Apr 2009
Date Written: April 2009
Part-time work among British women is extensive, and the (raw) pay penalty large. Since part-time work features most prominently when women are in their 30s, the peak childcare years and a crucial period for career building, its impact on subsequent earnings trajectories is important from a social as well as individual perspective. We find that part-time work experience gives a very low return in future earnings, particularly when acquired in lower-skill jobs. In addition, one-quarter of women in high-skill jobs downgrade occupationally on switching to part-time work, rising to 43% among those who also change employer. In combination these effects give an immediate earnings drop of 32%, followed by a permanently lower trajectory. It is these accompanying changes, rather than part-time status itself, which damage earnings. Return to full-time work, even with reversal of the occupational downgrading, brings only a partial recovery; without it the earnings losses continue to grow.
JEL Classification: C23, C25, C33, C35, J16, J22, J62
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