The motherhood wage penalty is a crucial topic in explaining the gender wage gap. The current literature attributes most of the gender wage gap to mothers, and therefore the effect that children have on mothers’ earnings is of great importance. I use data from the 1968-2003 National Longitudinal Survey of Young Women to test three hypotheses: (1) Women who have children suffer a motherhood wage penalty relative to their childless counterpart, (2) mothers receive lower returns to education and labor market experience relative to non-mothers, (3) mothers have a smaller threshold of work hours per week before the total effect of experience on earnings becomes negative, (4) mothers who have never married suffer a greater motherhood wage penalty than mothers who are married with a spouse present. Regression analysis is used as the appropriate methodology of testing and results show that mothers suffer a motherhood wage penalty, they receive lower returns to education and experience, and they have a lower threshold of work hours per week.


Mellizo, Philip


Business Economics


Econometrics | Labor Economics | Other Economics


Motherhood Wage Penalty, Gender Wage Gap

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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