The 10-Year Baby Window That Is the Key to the Women’s Pay Gap

April 9, 2018
New York Times
Women who have their first child before 25 or after 35 eventually close the salary divide with their husbands. It’s the years in between that are most problematic, research shows. Today, married couples in the United States are likely to have similar educational and career backgrounds. So while the typical husband still earns more than his wife, spouses have increasingly similar incomes. But that changes once their first child arrives. Immediately after the first birth, the pay gap between spouses doubles, according to a recent study — entirely driven by a drop in the mother’s pay. Men’s wages keep rising. The same pattern shows up in a variety of research. But the recent study reveals a twist. When women have their first child between age 25 and 35, their pay never recovers, relative to that of their husbands. Yet women who have their first baby either before 25 or after 35 — before their careers get started or once they’re established — eventually close the pay gap with their husbands. The years between 25 to 35 happen to be both the prime career-building years and the years when most women have children.

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