Fertility, Employment, and Wages During Midlife
Scopilliti, Melissa N
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Do mothers earn lower wages than women who remain childless even after they enter midlife? Although prior research has documented a "motherhood wage penalty" among women in their childbearing years, research has not examined whether the motherhood wage penalty persists into midlife. This analysis uses data from the 1996 and 2001 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation to examine women's employment and wages by motherhood status, parity, and first birth timing. Employment analyses suggest that mothers, especially those with three or more children, are less likely to be employed than childless women. In addition, wage analyses find that mothers have lower wages than childless women even after accounting for differences in demographic, human capital, and job-related characteristics. Overall, findings indicate that motherhood has long-term implications for women's economic attainment during midlife.