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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

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Volume 18, Issue 4


Volume 6 (2006)

Volume 4 (2004)

Volume 2 (2002)

Volume 1 (2001)

The Motherhood Penalty: Is It a Wage-Dependent Family Decision?

Dalit Gafni / Erez Siniver
  • Corresponding author
  • School of Economics, The College of Management, 7 Yitzhak Rabin Ave., P.O. Box 9017, Rishon Letzion 75190, Israel
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Published Online: 2018-09-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bejeap-2017-0186


Recent studies have shown that even highly skilled women suffer a motherhood wage penalty, resulting in reduced pay relative to childless women. We use a unique dataset of all Israeli women who graduated college or university during the period 1995–2008 and their husbands to investigate whether the motherhood penalty is the result of a household decision. Thus, we investigate whether the wage gap between husband and wife before they have children affects the decision of which spouse will be the main provider and which will have the main responsibility for childrearing. We find that the couple’s initial wage ratio does not affect this decision, since a woman almost always bears the opportunity cost of childrearing even if she has a much higher starting wage than her husband.

Keywords: motherhood wage gap; compensating wage differentials; career interruptions; time allocation and labor supply

JEL Classification: J22; J24; J31; J33


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-09-28

Conflict of interest: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, Volume 18, Issue 4, 20170186, ISSN (Online) 1935-1682, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bejeap-2017-0186.

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