Friday, December 10th, 2010

The Price of Having Kids

Despite the enormous strides taken toward gender equality in the last century, having children can still be very expensive for moms. I’m not talking about the cost of raising and educating a kid. The biggest cost is that experienced in the workplace. Male lawyers, for instance, still earn about 35% more than their female colleagues. Male dentists earn about 50% more. According to research by Harvard University economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz, the gap is mostly due to the impact of childbearing on women’s working hours.

Even highly paid women work fewer hours than equivalent men, on average. Highly educated women aged 41-to-44 work 9 fewer hours a week, on average, than men in that age bracket. And employers penalize that. For instance, the typical male physician makes $187,000 a year. The typical female physician makes $112,000. The proximate reason is that the guys work 6 more hours a week than the gals, on average. But that’s because the women have greater responsibilities at home, and they find them more difficult to mesh with a demanding working schedule.

But there are more accommodating professions. Male pharmacists only make about 6% more than females. The industry is more willing to adapt to women’s need for time.

I thank my colleague Steve Greenhouse at Economix for the pointer.

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