The Role of Parenthood on the Gender Gap Among Top Earners

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This is a paper in the Motherhood Penalty literature.


Bütikofer, Aline, Sissel Jensen, and Kjell G. Salvanes. "The role of parenthood on the gender gap among top earners." European Economic Review 109 (2018): 103-123.


This paper looks at whether the wage penalty due to motherhood is higher among highly qualified women and tries to look at why that might be true


The gender earnings gap has been decreasing in industrialized countries, including Norway (where their data is from), but the decreases has have stagnated and the gender wage gap remains high, especially amongst those in the upper percentiles on the income distribution

Data & Key Variables

The data is the Norwegian registry data that covers the Norwegian population includes education, birth, and tax and earnings registers. They look primarily at highly educated men and women; those with degrees in several fields that they highlight: MBA, Law STEM and Medical


Their methodology is the standard event study that's been used in the literature. They run an event study around the date of the child's birth on earnings in levels and then scale that by the average predicted earning for each of those years around childbirth without the childbirth effects


They show that highly educated women experience a childbirth earnings penalty, even those that are earning quite a bit and are attached to the labor force before childbirth. Unique to this paper, they are able to show that the people in professions with more nonlinear wave structures (defined here as those requiring an MBA or law degrees) have a larger and more persistent earnings penalty at childbirth than those equally educated women who have STEM and medicine degrees who are more likely to be in a more linear structure wage structure position