• Featured Chart
  • February 27, 2017

Marriage, kids, and the wage gap

Women have made progress in closing the wage gap with men, though their paychecks are still not on par.


Women continue to gain ground on their male counterparts in closing the earnings gap, but a substantial gulf between the two remains. Indeed, women working full time in 2014 earned just 79 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.

Women generally start off with about the same earnings as men until they begin to have kids. The arrival of children is a major factor contributing to the earnings gap, especially for skilled women.

In an article that appears in the Winter 2017 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, authors Chinhui Juhn and Kristin McCue examined the relationship between marriage, children, and what women earned compared to their male counterparts going back generations.


Figure 2 from Juhn et al. (2017)


Figure 2 looks at the ratio for female-to-male earnings for workers born between 1936 and 1985, comparing their trajectories as they advanced in their careers. The figure highlights the progress made by women born in later years as those generations gained access to greater educational and career opportunities. Also, beginning with the baby boom generation, women have become less likely to stop working when they were married and had children.