Women who have kids tend to earn less than women who don’t, a phenomenon known as the “motherhood penalty.” But USA Today reports that that when a woman has children makes a difference.
Researchers at the University of Maryland in College Park and the University of California at Los Angeles reviewed 35 years of data from some 2,200 women born between 1944 and 1954, and found that women who had kids in the early- to mid-20s or even younger didn’t fare as well economically as those who delayed.
Sociologist Joan Kahn, one of the study’s authors, comments:
“Women who delay childbearing end up as successful economically as women who didn’t have children, and we look at it basically throughout their adult years — well into their 50s,” she says.
The point, she says, is that women who are younger when they have kids and attempt to get back into the workforce later may not have that up-front investment in education and training, which those who have kids later benefit from. They earned equivalent wages and had higher status occupations just like women who were childless.