Children and the Remaining Gender Gaps in the Labor Market

49 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2020 Last revised: 14 Jun 2021

See all articles by Patricia Cortes

Patricia Cortes

Boston University

Jessica Pan

National University of Singapore (NUS)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2020

Abstract

The past five decades have seen a remarkable convergence in the economic roles of men and women in society. Yet, persistently large gender gaps in terms of labor supply, earnings, and representation in top jobs remain. Moreover, in countries like the U.S., convergence in labor market outcomes appears to have slowed in recent decades. In this article, we focus on the role of children and show that many potential explanations for the remaining gender disparities in labor market outcomes are related to the fact that children impose significantly larger penalties on the career trajectories of women relative to men. In the U.S., we document that close to two-thirds of the overall gender earnings gap can be accounted for by the differential impacts of children on women and men. We propose a simple model of household decision-making to motivate the link between children and gender gaps in the labor market, and to help rationalize how various factors potentially interact with parenthood to produce differential outcomes for men and women. We discuss several forces that might make the road to gender equity even more challenging for modern cohorts of parents, and offer a critical discussion of public policies in seeking to address the remaining gaps.

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Suggested Citation

Cortes, Patricia and Pan, Jessica, Children and the Remaining Gender Gaps in the Labor Market (October 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27980, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3718892

Jessica Pan

National University of Singapore (NUS) ( email )

1E Kent Ridge Road
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