Family Life Courses, Gender, and Midlife Earnings

Marika Jalovaara , University of Turku
Anette E. Fasang, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

How are long-term family life courses associated with mid-life earnings for men and women? Based on Finnish register data (N=12,951), we identify seven typical family life courses (from ages 18–39) and link them to mid-life earnings (ages 37–39) and accumulated earnings (ages 18–39) using sequence, cluster and regression methods. The most normative family life courses of stable marriage with 2+ children go along with the highest earnings. Earnings are lower for family lives that deviate from this model with cohabiting parenthood, and partnered and unpartnered childlessness. Contrary to expectations, earnings differences by family lives are much larger for men than for women. Gender earnings gaps are largest in normative family life courses of stable marriage with 2+ children. Findings show a large group of (almost) never-partnered childless men whose earnings disadvantage is not associated with family instability but with the combined absence of family events.

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 Presented in Session 218. Family Histories and Economic Outcomes: Comparative European Perspectives