Updated Feb 8, 2018

Having a child means a big pay cut for Danish women — but not for men

Erica Pandey, author of @Work

Even in Denmark — where social policies give parents a generous 52 weeks of fully paid family leave — women who have children take a big pay cut in the long run, per a new study by Danish economists.

The bottom line: About a year after the birth of her first child, a woman earns more than 35% less than a woman without kids. Men with and without kids earn almost exactly the same.

Expand chart
Adapted from Kleven et al., 2018, “Children and Gender Inequality: Evidence from Denmark”; Chart: Axios Visuals

Key takeaways:

  • Ten years after the birth of their first children, women make only about 6% more than they were making before having kids. Men make 15% more.
  • Women without kids see a nearly 30% wage increase over 10 years, compared to mothers.
  • The gap widens between fathers and mothers as they have more children. After 10 years...
    • One-child mothers make about 10% less, two-child mothers 20% less, three-child mothers 30% less, and four-child mothers 40% less.
  • Twenty years after the birth of their first child, women with kids work about half an hour less per day than their counterparts without kids, but they make about 20% less.

The big picture: Denmark has some of the most accommodating social policies in the world for parents, but a stark wage gap between mothers and other women and men in the workforce persists.

The story in the U.S., which has no guaranteed paid family leave, is similar according to the Upshot. "According to the data.. college-educated women make about 90 percent as much as men at age 25 and about 55 percent as much at age 45," primarily due to motherhood.

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