advertisement
Home » News » Parenting » Women Preserve Career Earnings by Waiting Until 30 to Have Kids
Women Preserve Career Earnings by Waiting Until 30 to Have Kids

Women Preserve Career Earnings by Waiting Until 30 to Have Kids

Given the current inequalities in wages between genders, a new study that provides advice to working women about minimizing career income losses related to motherhood is informative.

The new suggestion is for a women to delay having kids until the are 30 years old if they want to minimize career income loss.

Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis have published their findings — which hold true regardless of whether a woman has earned a college degree — in the journal PLOS ONE.

For college graduates and those without a college degree, the researchers found lower lifetime incomes for women who gave birth for the first time at age 30 or younger.

Income declines were particularly stark for women without college degrees who had their first children before age 25.

“The findings highlight the financial trade-offs women make when considering their fertility and career decisions,” said Man Yee (Mallory) Leung, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research associate at Washington University School of Medicine.

“Other studies have focused on the effect of children on women’s wages, but ours is the first to look at total labor income from ages 25 to 60 as it relates to a woman’s age when she has her first baby.”

In the current study, Leung and colleagues analyzed work experience, birth statistics and other household data of nearly 1.6 million Danish women ages 25-60 from 1995 to 2009 to estimate how a woman’s lifetime earnings are influenced by her age at birth of first child.

Study co-authors are Raul Santaeulalia-Llopis, an assistant professor of economics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, and Fane Groes, an economics professor with the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark.

Denmark is an excellent environment to perform research because the nation collects socioeconomic and health register data on 100 percent of the population. The Danish experience supports the notion that children can substantially affect the potential career path of their mothers.

“Children do not kill careers, but the earlier children arrive the more their mother’s income suffers. There is a clear incentive for delaying,” said Santaeulalia-Llopis.

“Our main result is that mothers lose between 2 and 2.5 years of their labor income if they have their first children before the age of 25.”

Researchers arrived at these estimates by calculating average annual salaries for each woman and using this average as a measuring stick for both short- and long-term income losses associated with age at birth of first child.

Income losses were estimated for women who had their first children before age 25 and for each subsequent three-year age range (ie. 25-to-28), with the last range being 40 years of age or older.

Other findings include:

  • College-educated women who had children before age 25 lose about two full years of average annual salary over their careers; women in this category with no college degree lose even more, forgoing about 2.5 years of average annual salary during their working careers.
  • Women who first give birth before age 28, regardless of college education, consistently earn less throughout their careers than similarly educated women with no children.
  • College-educated women who delay having their first children until after age 31 earn more over their entire careers than women with no children.
  • Noncollege-educated women who give birth after age 28 experience a short-term loss in income but eventually catch up with the lifetime earnings of women who have no children.
  • Those who delay their first children until age 37 add about a half year of salary to lifetime earnings.

Even career women with a college degree can suffer income loses if they become pregnant during specific age windows.

In terms of short-term income loss, women with no college education take a greater hit than their college-educated counterparts in almost every age range, with one notable exception – those who first give birth from ages 28 to 31.

Here, college-educated women experience income losses equal to 65 percent of average salary, compared with 53 percent for women with no degree. Both groups lose less short-term income the longer they delay having their first children.

The researchers noted these income trends while studying the effects of in vitro fertilization on women’s labor and fertility choices.
Here, they found a general shift toward women having a first child later in life, with a greater proportion of college-educated women pushing first birth into the 28-34 age range.

“The emergence of IVF technology has a significant impact on labor trends,” said Leung, who has a doctorate in economics.

As this trend progresses, more women will have the option to consider delaying motherhood until later in their careers, a choice that can have significant impact on lifetime earning potential, the researchers suggest.

The impact of age at first birth on lifetime earnings may be even more dramatic in countries such as the United States, where women generally receive 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Denmark’s more generous policies provide new mothers with up to 18 months of paid maternity leave.

“The fact that highly productive women who have children earlier enter a lower income path is not only a loss for them, but for the entire society,” said Santaeulalia-Llopis.

“If children are shutting down women’s career growth and these pervasive effects vanish after the mid-30s, then we should start taking seriously the case for employer-covered fertility treatments. But we need to dig deeper to establish causation and assess costs and benefits.”

Source: Washington University – St. Louis

 
Mother with infant photo by shutterstock.

Women Preserve Career Earnings by Waiting Until 30 to Have Kids

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Women Preserve Career Earnings by Waiting Until 30 to Have Kids. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/04/15/women-preserve-career-earnings-by-waiting-until-30-to-have-kids/101817.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 15 Apr 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Apr 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.