August 5, 2014
THE WAR ON MARRIAGE IS THE WAR ON WOMEN:
The Earnings Gap Between Married and Non-Married Moms is Widening (NEIL SHAH, 8/05/14, WSJ)
Posted by Orrin Judd at August 5, 2014 2:51 PMIn a study released Tuesday, Columbia University and Russell Sage Foundation scholar Jane Waldfogel finds that U.S. mothers in their prime-working years (usually defined as 25 to 44 years old) face a roughly 5% "motherhood wage penalty" in the workplace relative to childless women workers, a figure she estimates hasn't improved much since the late 1970s.Dividing the working moms into married and never-married women, she finds that the penalty for married women, which used to be around 8% in the late 1970s--meaning these women made 8% less in hourly wages than a married, childless female worker--shrank to around 3% by 2007, just before the recession. The same penalty for never-married women shot up from basically zero to 10.5%. (Various factors, like education, make it likelier that some women will get higher-paying jobs, or become mothers--issues Ms. Waldfogel and her colleague, graduate student Ipshita Pal, controlled for. However, it's hard to control for the fact that never-married working moms back in 1977 were very different from those in 2007; indeed, there were much fewer of them, and fewer employment opportunities for them, which is probably why there is no "motherhood penalty" for them in 1977.)What's going on?A big factor, Ms. Waldfogel believes, is married working moms are probably getting help from husbands on things like childcare and household chores, allowing them to stay more attached to the labor force. Rather than taking, say, a year off of work and then struggling to return, or moving into a part-time job, these women are continuing to build what economists call "human capital"--all the company- and occupation-specific experience that boosts their value to employers over time. Many married women are finally starting to see the work-related benefits of having a supportive partner that studies have shown men have enjoyed for decades. Never-married mothers, the logic goes, may be less likely to get such support from their partners, and find it harder to stay attached to the labor force. Indeed, some of the partners in question may not be around at all.