Motherhood still the biggest reason for gender wage gap

Woman and child
Woman and child. (Photo: golyak/DepositPhotos)

Parenthood remains one of the biggest causes of the wage gap between men and women. The average income of women falls sharply after the birth of their first child, while becoming a dad has a very limited effect on men's income, central planning office CPB said in a report on Thursday. CPB calls this the 'child penalty', NU.nl reports.

The wage gap between men and women arises in the first two years after the birth of the first child, and the child penalty does not decrease in the first eight years of the child's life. On average, women earn 39 percent less than men in the first eight years of being parents. 

According to CPB, it seems that preferences and established gender role patterns play an important role in the wage gap. The decrease in income is mainly due to a decrease in the number of hours worked.

With a child penalty of 39 percent, the Netherlands scores worse than Denmark where the child penalty is 21 percent, Sweden at 27 percent, and the United States at 31 percent. Countries that scored worse than the Netherlands include the United Kingdom with a child penalty of 44 percent, Austria at 51 percent, and Germany at 61 percent. 

The CPB also noted that the labor participation of women rose sharply in the Netherlands over the past decades. This has to do with an increase in education level, the fact that women have children later, and the change in cultural norms. Government policy also played a role. "Because the labor participation of women is already high, it is becoming increasingly difficult to increase it even further", the CPB said. "Because they do a lot of part-time work, there is more room to stimulate the amount of hours worked."

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