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The Motherhood Pay Penalty

Issue date

Key Findings from TUC/IPPR Research - March 2016.

IPPR have carried out analysis for the TUC of the pay penalty associated with motherhood. Using the Birth Cohort Study for women and men born in 1970, they compared the weekly earnings of those in full-time work at age 42 who had become parents with those who had not. The key findings in relation to mothers are below. The full research will be published in a forthcoming Touchstone pamphlet for the TUC later this year.

Key findings

  • By the age of 42, mothers who are in full-time work are earning 11 per cent less than full-time women without children.
  • When personal characteristics – such as education, region and occupational social class – are controlled for, the motherhood pay penalty for those in full-time work falls to 7 per cent.
  • This motherhood pay penalty is entirely associated with mothers who had their first child when they were under 33. The women who became mothers at a younger age earn 15 per cent less than similar full-time women (i.e. those with similar levels of education etc) who hadn’t had children by the age of 42. By contrast, mothers whose first birth was at 33 or older experience a wage bonus of 12 per cent compared to similar women who hadn’t had children.
  • Mothers who were single when they had their first child and who are in full-time work at age 42 were earning less than similar mothers who were in a couple at birth. There is a bonus of 12 per cent for being in a couple when women had their first child.
  • There is an overall gender pay gap of 34 per cent for this cohort of full-time workers who were born in 1970. This gap is largely due to the impact of parenthood on earnings – the women earning less and the men earning more after having children. However, it should be noted there is still a significant, if much smaller, gender pay gap between the childless women and men in the 1970 birth cohort too – a 12 per cent gap, compared to 42 per cent between the mothers and fathers.

Download The Motherhood Pay Penalty report [PDF]

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