Discussion paper

DP157 Family Responsibilities and Pay Differentials: Evidence from Men and Women Born in 1946

The MRC's survey of the 1946 birth cohort recorded hourly pay at ages 26 and 32. Among those men employed, pay varied not only by the sex of the recipient but also by the existence of family responsibilities. Among women, employed mothers received lower average pay than women without children. Regression analysis (allowing for possible selection bias among females surveyed) suggests that this is attributable to other variables - lower qualifications, interrupted employment records and different types of job (arguably reflecting their lower bargaining power in the labour market). The same factors also account for the smaller margin between the pay of single and married women. The pay of married men significantly exceeded that of bachelors, but there was no apparent difference between the earnings of fathers and those of other male employees. The possibility that the higher pay of married men reflects selection processes in the marriage market is discussed but not strongly supported. The pay gap between mothers and other childless women represented over 30 per cent of mothers' average pay. Our analysis suggests that about 15 per cent (or up to half the gap) was a consequence of women's maternal responsibilities. The unexplained gap between childless women and men was somewhat greater. The compounding effects of labour market discrimination and the unequal division of family responsibilities between men and women imply that the goal of equal opportunities for women requires measures which act on both fronts.


, and M Newell (1987), ‘DP157 Family Responsibilities and Pay Differentials: Evidence from Men and Women Born in 1946‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 157. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp157