We anecdotally know that kids affect women at work. Through all of our “sisters,” at home or on the job, we see how most women have more family responsibilities than men. The result is an employment (rate) and earnings child penalty.
Now though, using data from 134 countries we can document the impact of motherhood. Then, we can see how the child penalty differs globally.
The Child Penalty
From two lengthy papers, for today, I wanted to share several big ideas. They relate to global differences in employment and earnings between men and women.
The United States
In the United States, the gender employment and earnings gap can depend on your location. The following heatmap displays an employment gap that ranges from 12 percent for the Dakotas (lighter shades) to 38 percent in Utah (darker):
Correspondingly, Utah’s earnings gap is 61 percent (darker) while one of the lowest is Vermont’s 21 percent (lighter):
Similarly, the differences among countries can be considerable. Showing the biggest employment gaps, the darkly shaded areas include much of Latin America except for Cuba and Haiti, northern and southern Africa (where there is less poverty), and English-speaking countries. While it is smaller countrywide in Scandinavia, China, and Southeast Asia, it gets larger in cities:
Similarly disparate for Beijing vs. China or Istanbul vs. Turkey, London’s child penalty is 43% while the UK’s is 34 percent. Meanwhile, in Nairobi it’s 22% but just 7% in Kenya:
Our Bottom Line: Economic Development
The trajectory of economic development can shape the employment and earnings gender gap. As a solo farmer, with considerable flexibility for when you work and who works. agriculture creates the lowest child penalty. Then though, as development unfolds and affluence grows, so too does the child penalty. It only starts to decline at the highest income levels. One reason could be the gendered differences in home and workplace responsibilities. As one paper explains, although women have closed the education and marriage related gap, the child penalty is “sticky.”