Money, Childbearing, Gender: Explaining within-Couple Inequality after Parenthood

Abstract

Using population register data for the Netherlands, we analyze the child penalty for new parents in three groups of couples: different-sex and lesbian couples with a biological child and different-sex couples with an adopted child. With a longitudinal design, we follow parents’ earnings from 2 years before to 8 years after the arrival of the child and use event study models to estimate the effects of the transition to parenthood on earnings trajectories. Comparing different groups of couples allows to test hypotheses related to three types of difference that are early impossible to disentangle when studying only heterosexual biological parents: relative earnings, childbearing and gender. Our results offer strong support for gender as the main driver of diver-gent child penalties: for mothers, the gender of their partners is more consequential for their earnings trajectories than going through pregnancy or being a secondary earner before parenthood

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