When American men have children, they’re often rewarded with a raise.
That’s one of the take-aways from a new research paper by University of Massachusetts, Amherst sociology professor Michelle Budig, who found that the average man earns a pay bump of more than 6% when he becomes a father.
Conversely, Budig found that women’s earnings decreased by 4% for every child they had.
“Generally, men find that their earnings increase when they become fathers, while each additional child is associated with earnings decline for women,” Budig writes.
To conduct her study, Budig used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth from 1979 to 2006, statistics put out by the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics. The paper was published by Third Way, a think tank that aims to push legislators toward moderate policies based on pragmatic solutions.
Budig found that several hypothetical reasons for why women earn less money than men after giving birth do not fully explain the phenomenon.
While many women do reduce their hours or take time away from work after having children, Budig says this reduced productivity is the source of only one-third of the salary decline mothers experience every time they have a child.
And while men tend to work harder after having kids, the increased effort only accounts for about 16% of their pay bump.
Budig’s research indicates that the fatherhood bonus is greater for white men who are high earners and college graduates, while it is non-existent for black men regardless of education or economic status.
Meanwhile, the motherhood penalty is most severe for low-wage earners, and women at the very top of the economic pyramid actually earn a small bonus for having children that is similar to the one high-earning men receive.
“The fact that having children exacerbates gender inequality is troubling enough, but the analyses indicating that parenthood penalizes lower-wage working women more and does not benefit lower-wage working men at all has profound implications for growing household or family inequality,” Budig writes.
To help lessen this inequality, Budig recommends the U.S. expand the number of families eligible for the earned income tax credit and increase the size of the credit.
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