There’s been a lot of debate over how much money women earn relative to men—and why. As I noted last year in my review of the economist Claudia Goldin’s Career and Family, the gap is mostly not attributable to discrimination by employers, and only about a third of it is explained by the fact that women cluster in somewhat lower-paid occupations. The biggest culprit, instead, is children: when a baby arrives, it’s usually the mother who scales back her paid work to dedicate more time to child care and other work in the home.
But what happens in the decades that follow, as kids slowly become more self-sufficient and eventually move out? That’s the focus of an illuminating new study from Goldin and two coauthors. The conclusion is that older moms regain most of the ground they lost to women without kids, but they do not close the gap with fathers.
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