New Study Dispels Misconceptions About ‘Motherhood Penalty’ and ‘Fatherhood Premium’

The Daily Signal | 1/16/2019 | Staff
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Rachel Greszler is research fellow in economics, budget, and entitlements in the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, of the Institute for Economic Freedom, at The Heritage Foundation. Read her research.

When a couple has a child, the woman’s earnings tend to decrease, while the man’s increases. This is known as the “motherhood penalty” and “fatherhood premium.”

Economists - Gap - Percent - Earnings - Run

Economists have pegged the resulting gap at about 20 percent of earnings over the long run, due to changes in labor-force participation, hours of work, and wage rates.

Advocates of complete pay parity conjecture that gender-based discrimination is to blame for the gap in pay between mothers and fathers, suggesting that employers wrongly perceive women as less valuable once they become mothers and fathers as more valuable.

Evidence - Study - Valentin - Bolotnyy - Natalia

Fresh evidence from a study by Valentin Bolotnyy and Natalia Emanuel of Harvard University suggests the “motherhood penalty” and “fatherhood premium”—at least at the level experienced in this study—is the result of choices mothers and fathers make, and not gender-based discrimination.

The study, “Why Do Women Earn Less Than Men? Evidence from Bus and Train Operators,” examined the earnings and hours of male and female operators within the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Environment - Transportation - Authority - Discrimination - Manager

The unionized environment within the transportation authority prohibits gender-based discrimination. Even if a manager wanted to discriminate, they couldn’t, because pay and workers’ options depend exclusively on tenure.

Despite the rigid pay system, women made 11 cents less, 89 cents on the dollar, compared with men.

Authors - Gap - Fact - Choice - Sets

The authors concluded that the gap “can be explained entirely by the fact that, while having the same choice sets in the workplace, women and men make difference choices.”

As a whole, women chose to work only half as many overtime hours—80 hours per year, compared with 160 hours for men.

Pay - Days - Earnings

More overtime pay and fewer days of unpaid leave resulted in higher average weekly earnings...
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