The Mommy Track: Job Placement and the Wages of Working Mothers

Jeremy Staff, Pennsylvania State University

This study investigates the role of job search strategies in explaining the well-documented wage penalty for motherhood. Though research has shown that childrearing constrains the social networks of women, we know little about whether motherhood affects the channels by which women obtain jobs. Using data from a prospective study of Midwestern teenagers from 1988 to 2004, this research estimates the relationships of within-individual changes in hourly wages to motherhood, job search, and other explanatory variables. The results suggest women pay less of a wage penalty for motherhood when they find jobs through friends. By contrast, women with (more) children experience a decline in their hourly pay when jobs are obtained though employers, whereas non-mothers increase their wages by 8 percent when their employers tell them about new jobs. Women on the “mommy track” obtain jobs through their employers that are significantly lower in wages than women who remain childless.

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Presented in Poster Session 7