Having Children Benefits A Man's Paycheck, But Not A Woman's

News & Views | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 09/10/2014 | 12:30 PM EDT

Moms with lower wages are at a disadvantage in the workforce as result of lacking support and resources, a report finds

Having children can have damaging effects on a woman’s pocketbook, according to a new report.


For each child a woman has she earns about 4 percent less in wages. For men, however, having a child can actually lead to their paychecks increasing by as much as 6 percent. Such new information suggests that on top of the pay gap between men and women, there’s also a parenthood wage gap--one that is complicated to explain.


The data released by Third Way doesn’t necessarily prove that fathers get better treatment for having children, however, the report notes that “evidence from experimental and audit studies suggest that fathers receive preferential treatment over childless men from potential employers” and that “Fatherhood is a valued characteristic of employers, signaling perhaps greater work commitment, stability, and deservingness.”


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Mother, however, may be frowned upon, as studies have consistently shown that women with children appear to be penalized in the workforce. Still, a study earlier this year found that working mothers are actually better employees.


The report also determined that low-wage mothers are worse off, earning nearly 7 percent less for each child. Moms with the highest income levels actually earn more with children, up to 5.4 percent. Mothers who are more well off are afforded resources such as nannies, cooks and cleaners which, the reports suggests, could allow them to work more hours or in other words “provide both a motivation to increase earnings and the ability to reduce work-family conflict.”


Mothers earning less without such resources and with less flexibility are typically pulled away from work in order to tend to more family/home responsibilities.


Think Progress reports:


So if the United States had better work/family supports, things might be easier for low-income women. But that’s not how our policies are shaped. Out of 185 countries around the world, the U.S. is one of just three that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave. We also don’t guarantee paid sick days or vacation and holiday time. That means low-income women, who are less likely to get these benefits, are put in a more difficult position when they need to take time to care for children. Child care also costs a fortune — more than public college tuition in many states — yet spending on helping families afford it has hit a decade low.


Ultimately, the new report finds that “the women who least can afford it pay the largest proportionate penalty for motherhood.”

(Photo: Ann Marie Kurtz/Getty Images)

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