These graphs come from a column at Vox. The column is A stunning chart shows the true cause of the gender wage gap by Sarah Kliff.
Kliff discusses research by Henrik Kleven, an economist at Princeton University. Kliff writes
His [Kleven] study is among a growing body of research that suggests what we often think of as a gender pay gap is more accurately discussed as a childbearing pay gap or motherhood penalty.Kliff continues,
Childless women have earnings that are quite similar to men’s salaries, while mothers experience a significant wage gap.
A 2009 study led by University of Chicago’s Marianne Bertrand echoes that conclusion. It examined the earnings of thousands of business school graduates. It found that women earned an average salary of $115,000 right out of graduate school, while men earned $130,000. Men also worked, on average, a few more weekly hours and had a bit more prior experience as they entered the workforce.Such findings are consistent with the findings of yet other researchers such as Claudia Goldin. Goldin (Professor of Economics at Harvard University) has written,
But nine years into their careers, women saw their salaries rise to an average of $250,000 — while men’s salaries averaged out at $400,000. Men were earning 60 percent more than women.
“The one thing which is not changing is the effect of children,” Kleven says of the gender wage gap. “This is very persistent and constant. All the other sources are declining, but the child effect sticks, and that ends up taking over as the key driver.”
Historical drivers of the gender wage gap — a lack of education among women, for example — are disappearing. But the professional penalty women face for having children is stubborn, and it isn’t going anywhere.
These findings provide more nuance in explaining why the gap widens with age and why it is greater for women with children. Whatever changes have already taken place in American society, the duty of caring for children — and for other family members — still weighs more heavily on women. And if you thought that moving to a more family-friendly nation would eliminate the gap, think again. In several nations, including Sweden and Denmark, a “motherhood penalty” in earnings exists, even though these nations have generous family policies, including paid family leave and subsidized child care.So the answer to the pay gap may be in the choices made within the home. And that makes it difficult for public policy to deal with.
Such considerations bring us to a very sensitive area: domestic arrangements at home, especially among couples with children. These are personal questions. In theory, gender earnings equality is possible when both parents take off the same amount of time and enjoy the same flexibility at work.