Women’s earnings and men’s childcare : is there ever a motherhood premium?




Gabriel, Brandyn Paige

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A multitude of qualitative studies describe women’s struggles to meet the expectations of intensive mothering with the complete commitment expected by employers (Hochschild 1989; Hochschild 1997; Hays 1998; Williams 2000; Blair-Loy 2003; Stone 2007; Folbre 2010). In this dissertation, I focus on the relationship between responsibility for reproductive labor and earnings. I ask if the motherhood penalty and fatherhood premium are inherently gendered. Can women experience a gender-neutral breadwinner premium if they are the primary earner in the household? Similarly, do men experience a gender-neutral caregiver penalty when they contribute more to household reproductive labor than their peers? I begin by using data from the 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation to establish that husbands in female-breadwinner households have different childcare patterns than their counterparts in male-breadwinner and equal-earner households. I then use female-breadwinner households as a test case in my analysis of the gender pay gap by looking for evidence of a gender-neutral breadwinner premium. Women did experience a breadwinner premium, but it was lower in magnitude than the premium experienced by men. The premium was gendered, but both men and women experienced a penalty for caregiving. I conclude with analysis of data from an original survey experiment that investigates the relationship between anticipated spousal contribution to childcare and women’s attitudes toward their careers. The survey experiment suggests that there are at least two significant components to an egalitarian distribution of labor: partners must both contribute similar amounts of work and they must also come to an agreement on how tasks should be completed and meet these shared standards in their contributions. These analyses allow me to enter the debate about the motherhood penalty and fatherhood premium.



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