The Motherhood Wage Penalty Revisited: Experience, Heterogeneity, Work Effort, and Work-Schedule Flexibility

Posted: 14 Mar 2003

See all articles by Deborah Anderson

Deborah Anderson

University of Arizona - College of Education

Melissa Binder

University of New Mexico - Department of Economics

Kate Krause

University of New Mexico - Department of Economics; Honors College

Abstract

This paper seeks an explanation for the well-documented wage disadvantage of mothers compared to women without children. An analysis of data from the 1968-88 National Longitudinal Survey of Young Women shows that human capital inputs and unobserved heterogeneity explain 55-57% of the gap. Further analysis suggests that mothers tended to face the highest wage penalty when they first returned to work. A finding that medium-skill mothers (high school graduates) suffered more prolonged and severe wage losses than either low- or high-skill mothers casts doubt on the work-effort explanation for the wage gap, according to which women reduce work effort in response to childcare duties. The authors instead cite variable time constraints: high school graduates are likely to hold jobs requiring their presence during regular office hours, and are unlikely to gain flexibility by finding work at other hours or by taking work home in the evening.

Keywords: wage penalty, mothers, discrimination, work effort

JEL Classification: J0, J1, J3, J7

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Deborah and Binder, Melissa and Krause, Kate, The Motherhood Wage Penalty Revisited: Experience, Heterogeneity, Work Effort, and Work-Schedule Flexibility. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 56, No. 2, 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=375703

Deborah Anderson (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - College of Education ( email )

P.O. Box 210069
Tucson, AZ 85721-0069
United States
520-626-4861 (Phone)
520-626-6005 (Fax)

Melissa Binder

University of New Mexico - Department of Economics ( email )

1915 Roma NE/Economics Building
Albuquerque, NM 87131
United States
505-277-3548 (Phone)
505-277-9445 (Fax)

Kate Krause

University of New Mexico - Department of Economics ( email )

1915 Roma NE/Economics Building
Albuquerque, NM 87131
United States

Honors College ( email )

107 Humanitites Building
Albuquerque, NM 87131-1221
United States

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