Changes in the Motherhood Penalty in the U.S., 1970-2010

Marta Murray-Close, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Joya Misra, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Previous research tracking the motherhood earning penalty in the United States through the late 1990s found that the penalty changed little during the years when the gender wage gap closed most rapidly. This paper documents a surprising acceleration in the closing of the earnings gap between mothers and childless women during the 2000s, following several decades of relative stability, and identifies the key factors that account for this change. The paper also assesses the extent to which differential changes in the selection of mothers and childless women into the full-time, full-year labor force influence the measured evolution of the motherhood penalty.

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Presented in Session 174: Trends in Gender Inequality in the United States