Hav­ing chil­dren is ter­ri­ble for women’s long-term earn­ing power

The Buffalo News - - BUSINESS - By Janet Paskin

Ba­bies are cute. They’re soft, they of­ten smell nice and they’re nec­es­sary for the sur­vival of the hu­man race.

But for women, the ar­rival of a baby dove­tails with a sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic event: the mo­ment when their earn­ing power starts to lag that of their male peers.

At the be­gin­ning of their ca­reers, men’s and women’s in­come are prac­ti­cally equiv­a­lent. By the time ev­ery­one’s in their mid40s, women on av­er­age make as lit­tle as 55 per­cent of what men do.

Clau­dia Goldin, an eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor at Har­vard Univer­sity and an ex­pert on the gen­der pay gap, says that most though not all of that dif­fer­ence can be traced to women work­ing at least a lit­tle less than men do. Or at least work­ing less for pay: her re­search finds that women of­ten pull back from their ca­reers be­cause their un­paid work – rais­ing and car­ing for a child – be­comes more de­mand­ing.

In a 15-year study of MBA stu­dents at the Univer­sity of Chicago, Goldin and her col­leagues found that the pay gap started to widen a year or two af­ter a woman had her first child.

“These women are ex­traor­di­nar­ily driven and ded­i­cated to what they’re do­ing,” she said. “They’re try­ing as hard as they can, but at some point, the de­mands of home are re­ally get­ting to them.”

Though about 70 per­cent of women work out­side the home in the U.S., they’re also still do­ing a lot of work in the house. Ac­cord­ing to re­search from the Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics, women spend more time on more days of the week car­ing for their chil­dren than men do. They also spend more time on do­mes­tic du­ties such as clean­ing and laun­dry.

Those ad­di­tional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of­ten lead women to limit the time they spend at their pay­ing jobs. Some­times that means switch­ing to a part-time sched­ule. Other times, it’s more sub­tle – be­ing un

Women of­ten pull back from their ca­reers be­cause their un­paid work – rais­ing a child – be­comes more de­mand­ing.

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