Mothers' Employment and Children's Educational Gender Gap

39 Pages Posted: 18 May 2015

See all articles by Xiaodong Fan

Xiaodong Fan

Monash University - Department of Economics

Hanming Fang

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Simen Markussen

University of Oslo - Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research

Date Written: May 2015

Abstract

This paper analyzes the connection between two concurrent trends since 1950: the narrowing and reversal of the educational gender gap and the increased labor force participation rate (LFPR) of married women. We hypothesize that the education production for boys is more adversely affected by a decrease in the mother's time input as a result of increasing employment. Therefore, an increase in the labor force participation rate of married women may narrow and even reverse the educational gender gap in the following generation. We use micro data from the Norwegian registry to directly show that the mother's employment during her children's childhood has an asymmetric effect on the educational achievement of her own sons and daughters. We also document a positive correlation between the educational gender gap in a particular generation and the LFPR of married women in the previous generation at the U.S. state level. We then propose a model that generates a novel prediction about the implications of these asymmetric effects on the mothers' labor supply decisions and find supporting evidence in both the U.S. and Norwegian data.

Suggested Citation

Fan, Xiaodong and Fang, Hanming and Markussen, Simen, Mothers' Employment and Children's Educational Gender Gap (May 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21183, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2607371

Xiaodong Fan (Contact Author)

Monash University - Department of Economics ( email )

Australia

Hanming Fang

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science
133 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Simen Markussen

University of Oslo - Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research ( email )

Gaustadalleen 21
N-0317 Oslo
Norway

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