by Giulia M. Dotti Sani (European University Institute) and Matteo Luppi (Collegio Carlo Alberto)
This article inquires whether work interruptions due to childbearing and childrearing 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, and 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, the 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 childrearing on mothers’ income in later life. In this article, we investigate whether the length of maternity-related work interruptions is associated with income inequalities at a later age. The analysis, based on four waves of SHARE data (N 7,746), indicates that while short work interruptions are not negatively associated with mothers’ absolute and relative earned income in later life, long work interruptions and a failure to return to work have a large impact on women’s long-term economic wellbeing, especially in countries where decommodification through family and pension policies is limited.