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Children Hurt Women’s Pay, Give Men’s A Boost

By Bryce Covert  

"Children Hurt Women’s Pay, Give Men’s A Boost"

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Working mother with child

CREDIT: Shutterstock

Working women who have children under the age of 18 make $17 less per week at the median than women without kids, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But for men, having children means making $147 more per week than their childless peers.

Women with children under the age of six make even less, $653 compared to $697 for childless women. Single mothers with children of that age get hit the hardest, making just $490 a week at the median compared to $654 for single women without kids.

Men see a boost from children no matter their age, but they make over $1000 a week when their children are between the ages of six and 17. Single dads with young kids, however, make less than their childless peers.

The data also show that the gender wage gap continues to haunt women. Women make less than men in every occupation tracked by the BLS except for two: social work counselors and health practitioner support technologists and technicians.

Having children has a big impact on women’s lives because they still do most of the work to raise them and care for them. While fathers have nearly tripled the amount of time they spend caring for their children since the 1960s, mothers today spend more time with their children than mothers did back then. Mothers spend nearly double the amount of time on unpaid work in the home such as taking care of kids, cleaning, and cooking than fathers do each week. For women around the world, each additional child they have reduces the time they have for themselves by 2.3 hours a week, more than for men. It also makes them more exhausted.

Caring duties, including taking care of a parent or a spouse, push women out of the labor force but doesn’t impact men. Having to work long hours, which is increasingly the norm in today’s workplace, is also pushing mothers out of the workforce and not impacting single women.

It may be little wonder when the country offers working parents, a burden that falls disproportionately on women, so little support. Subsidies to help pay for childcare have been declining even as the costs skyrocket. The country is one of just three among 178 that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave and it also is lonely in not guaranteeing paid sick days or vacation time.

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