Giulia Dotti Sani and Matteo Luppi (CCA)

"How long is too long? Long-term effects of maternity-related job interruptions on mothers’ income in 10 European countries"

2 March 2017, 2:00 pm


This article asks whether work interruptions due to childbearing and rearing have long-term effects on mothers’ absolute and relative income in later life in ten European countries. Previous studies have found significant differences in earned income among prime age women and men, mothers and fathers, with mothers earning significantly less than men and childless women, both in absolute and relative terms. Many factors account for such differences, including mothers reduced working hours and productivity, type of job, job interruptions, self-selection and statistical discrimination. However, while research has investigated the short- and medium-term consequences of having children on mothers absolute and relative earnings, less is known about the long-term effects of childbearing and rearing on mothers’ income in later life. In this article, we ask whether the length of maternity-related work interruptions is associated with income inequalities in older age. The analyses, based on four waves of SHARE data (N 7,746), indicate that while short work interruptions are not negatively associated with mothers’ absolute and relative earned income in later life, long work interruptions and the failure to return to work have large impact on women’ long-term economic well-being, especially in countries where decommodification through family and pension policies is limited.