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The gender pay gap is largely the result of women’s choice to have children, writes Claire Cain Miller in a recent column for The New York Times.
In a column titled, “The Gender Pay Gap Is Largely Because of Motherhood,” Miller argues that motherhood plays a significant role in creating the pay gap between men and women in the United States.
The big reason that having children, and even marrying in the first place, hurts women’s pay relative to men’s is that the division of labor at home is still unequal, even when both spouses work full time. That’s especially true for college-educated women in high-earning occupations: Children are particularly damaging to their careers.
Research suggests that women are also likely to earn less due to women being more likely to either move or stay in a certain area due to the greater importance the couple places on the husband’s job. Sari Kerr, an economist at Wellesley College, argues that because the spouse who earns is likely to do more of the household work, the gender pay gap is self-reinforcing.
“That reinforces the pay gap in the labor market, and we’re trapped in this self-reinforcing cycle,” Kerr said.
Experts argue that the most efficient way to reduce the wage gap would be to encourage employers to put less emphasis on asking their employees to work long hours and to allow them to work remotely. Progressive economists, like Kerr, also argue that government-subsidized childcare could lift women out of the self-reinforcing cycle of the wage gap.
To achieve greater pay equality, social scientists say — other than women avoiding marriage and children — changes would have to take place in workplaces and public policy that applied to both men and women. Examples could be companies putting less priority on long hours and face time, and the government providing subsidized child care and moderate-length parental leave.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about economics and higher education for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org