The Hidden Wage Gap: Why Men Earn More When They Become Dads

Motherhood Often Stalls Women's Earnings, so Why Do Men Earn More When They Have Kids?

Have you heard of the “Mommy Tax”?

That’s the term used to describe the wage gap where working women with children earn less on average than women without.

Now, new research from the City University of New York explores the other side of the picture. Enter: “The Daddy Bonus.”

According to the study, men with children actually earn a higher median income than those without. And the gap is relatively wide: Comparing New York City residents in 2010, the research found that men with children raked in a median income of $40,947—while those without earned just $29,904.

Although this particular study was concentrated on men in New York City, the phenomenon was found to be consistent across all groups, including different ethnicities, education levels, occupations and ages.

In other words, it’s the flip side of the “Mommy Tax”: While women with children experience a so-called wage “penalty,” men, on average, enjoy a sizable income boost for being parents.

The explanation for this reality could be two-fold. For one, working women may be more likely to drop out of the workforce for a few years to raise children, thereby losing out on years of potential wage growth.

But experts say the divergence could also be more psychological. For example, stereotypes about women with children being less focused on their jobs could be persisting—and playing out in their paychecks.

On the other hand, perceptions about men with children might actually be working in their favor. “There are some social psychologists who [describe] certain stereotypes about men with children—that they’re more warm, that they’re more devoted—all these sort of positive factors we attribute to dads,” Justine Calcagno, a social psychologist at CUNY and the author of the study, told the Wall Street Journal. “That may be one reason why employers are biasing in terms of their pay.

This article originally appeared in LearnVest and is reprinted with permission.

[Image: Flickr user Joris Louwes]

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2 Comments

  • No offense, but this was a waste of my time and digital space. This article contains a paucity of real information and unsubstantiated speculation as to why men that are fathers earn more than men that aren't. Further, this article makes the potentially dangerous leap from correlation to causation.

    This article should have been more appropriately titled "A Segment of Men Earn More Than a Different Segment of Men and Women: Marginally Informed Speculation as to Why that Might Be"