Motherhood and the Gender Productivity Gap

57 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2018

Date Written: June 25, 2018


Using Danish matched employer-employee data, I compare the relative pay of men and women to their relative productivity as measured by production function estimation. I find that the gender "productivity gap" is 8 percent, implying that almost two thirds of the residual gender wage gap is due to productivity differences between men and women. Motherhood plays an important role, yet it also reveals a puzzle: the pay gap for mothers is entirely explained by productivity, whereas the gap for non-mothers is not. In addition, the decoupling of pay and productivity for women without children happens during their prime-child bearing years. These estimates are robust to a variety of specifications for the impact of observables on productivity, and robust to accounting for endogenous sorting of women into less productive firms using a control-function approach. This paper also provides estimates of the productivity gap across industries and occupations, finding the same general patterns for mothers compared to women without children within these subgroups.

Keywords: Discrimination, Wage Gap, Labor Productivity

JEL Classification: J71, J31, J24

Suggested Citation

Gallen, Yana, Motherhood and the Gender Productivity Gap (June 25, 2018). Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics Working Paper No. 2018-41, Available at SSRN: or

Yana Gallen (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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