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Working Moms: The Good and the Bad News

Aug 7, 2010 • Economic Thinkers, Gender Issues, Households, Labor, Macroeconomic Measurement • 150 Views    No Comments

Two recent studies about working moms give good news and bad.

The good first. If you work during your child’s first year, and you contribute considerably to the family income, or if your child care is very good, or if you are sensitive to your children, then his or her cognitive development will equal those of stay-at-home moms.   

Now the bad. As a working mother with an MBA, 15 years after graduation, “lesser job experience, greater career discontinuity and shorter work hours…,” will contribute to a gender pay gap of 25%. By contrast, perhaps as illustrated by Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Condaleezza Rice, women whose careers resembled those of men earned equal pay. 

The Economic Lesson

Labor force statistics include participation rates. Defined as a statistic that compares the size of the labor force to its potential total, female participation rates for June, 2010 were 58.5% while male participation rates were close to 71.3%.

The labor force includes all people who are employed, who are looking for a job, and who are 16 or older. There are close to 155 million people in the U.S. labor force. 

Average gender wage gap differentials for different occupations are noted in an earlier econlife post. For different countries, you can look here.

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