Inside the Black Box of Child Penalties

50 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2019

See all articles by Sandra Aguilar-Gomez

Sandra Aguilar-Gomez

Columbia University

Eva Arceo-Gomez

Universidad Iberoamericana

Elia De la Cruz Toledo

Loyola Marymount University

Date Written: December 2, 2019


As developed countries have been unable to completely close the gender wage and participation gap, recent literature has revisited the old findings regarding the existence of child penalties in the labor market. Developing countries, however, present different challenges to the ability of women to work for pay. In this paper, we produce the first formal estimation of the child penalties in the Mexican labor market, and the second in a Latin American context. Using an event study approach and an instrumental variable strategy as a robustness check, we estimate the short run impact of children on labor force participation and wages, as well as their effect on transitions between the informal and formal sector. We find significant gaps between men and women in the short run impacts of children on both paid and unpaid work.

Keywords: Child penalty, Event study, Gender norms, Family structure, Labor outcomes, Mexico

JEL Classification: J12, J13, J16, J22, J31

Suggested Citation

Aguilar-Gomez, Sandra and Arceo-Gomez, Eva and De la Cruz Toledo, Elia, Inside the Black Box of Child Penalties (December 2, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Sandra Aguilar-Gomez (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States


Eva Arceo-Gomez

Universidad Iberoamericana ( email )

Prol. Paseo de la Reforma, #880
Lomas de Santa Fe
Mexico, Distrito Federal 01210
55595040004759 (Phone)
01219 (Fax)

Elia De la Cruz Toledo

Loyola Marymount University ( email )

7900 Loyola Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90045
United States

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