The pay gap between men and women widens for more than a decade after a woman has a child.
New research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggests that on average women earn 18 per cent less per hour than men do. This widens each year after a woman becomes a mother and peaks at around 33 per cent after 12 years.
The average gender gap increases by around two per cent for each year a woman is out of work by the time she returns. This effect is doubled among higher-paid jobs with mothers losing four per cent of their hourly wage each year in relation to men. Researchers labelled this a “wage penalty” for mothers.
However, the overall wage gap has actually fallen significantly in the last 20 years. In 1993, men earned 28 per cent more than women and this fell to 23 per cent by 2003.
Research author Robert Joyce is an Associate Director at IFS. He said that the overall reduction “has been the result of more women becoming highly educated” and an increasingly narrow gap in low wage jobs. The gap between high earning men and women remains largely unchanged in the past two decades.
The gap that emerges after a woman has a child could be due to a “lack of wage progression”, he said. As some mothers work fewer hours they are more likely to miss out on promotions or pay rises.
“Understanding that lack of progression is going to be crucial to making progress in reducing the gender wage gap.”
Motherhood also had a significant impact on employment rates. Before becoming parents, roughly the same percentage of men and women had full-time jobs. But after having a child, women whose highest qualifications were GCSEs had a 33 per cent lower employment rate than men. Among women who had A-Levels the gap was 19 per cent and for university graduates it was 16 per cent.
Earlier this year, progressive think-tank IPPR claimed that men’s salaries increase when they have children, while women’s salaries tend to fall.
The full report is available here.