Parenthood and Earnings Changes Within and Across Organizations: How Do Women’s and Men’s Experiences Differ?

Wei-hsin Yu , University of Maryland
Yuko Hara, University of Maryland

Despite much interest in the effect of parenthood on the gender inequality in pay, research rarely compares how having children contributes to wage changes within and across firms for women and men. Using 26 waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and fixed-effects models, we examine how women’s and men’s starting pay across organizations vary according to parenthood status and whether parenthood alters their earnings within each employer spell. We find a motherhood penalty across employing organizations, but not within organizations. Conversely, the transition to fatherhood increases earnings within organizations, but not across organizations. We argue that these results are most consistent with the discrimination perspective, because a negative bias against mothers is likely to be more salient when employers set wages for new recruits than for existing employees, whereas a positive bias favoring fathers should be more prominent when employers judge existing employees than they do new workers.

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 Presented in Session 115. Gender and Labor Markets