WOMEN’S ANTICIPATION OF THE EMPLOYMENT EFFECTS OF MOTHERHOOD – EVIDENCE AND IMPLICATIONS
by ILYANA KUZIEMKO & JESSICA PAN & JENNY SHEN & EBONYA WASHINGTON (INTRODUCTORY NOTES BY YVES SMITH)
COMMENTARY BY CHARLES SULKA
In the post-modern worldview, there is a real problem with women’s equality in the workplace — at least there is from the neo-Marxist viewpoint. In this examination of the issue, the writers only add to the confusion. It is clear that these women haven’t the slightest idea what the problem actually is.
These writers frame the argument in terms of the modern-day feminist viewpoint — a viewpoint that is increasingly losing currency as thoughtful people examine the problems that afflict modern society. The writers are operating under the mistaken belief that parity in the workplace is both achievable and desirable. In reality, workplace equality is neither attainable nor desirable … unless the eventual destruction of society is regarded as desirable.
The problem is actually quite easy to solve; the solution to the problem requires only changing one’s worldview, acknowledging that the ‘problem’ of workplace inequality exists only in women’s pregnant imaginations (some women, anyway, not all.) The writers assert that “Children continue to pose a considerable cost to careers, and that cost is disproportionately borne by women.” The writers have got it backwards. The writers should have said that “Women’s careers continue to pose a considerable cost to children and families, and that cost is disproportionately borne by their children, their husbands, and society at large.”
The breakdown of the nuclear family and the erosion of community values will result in the collapse of human civilization. The end of the human race might be attributable to a pandemic — the widespread confused mental state of women.
Subconsciously, modern day feminists are not aiming for equality, but rather for dominance. If you talk to hard-core feminists, it soon becomes clear that these women are not after equality but rather are seeking revenge. These women are angry — angry at what they see as a terrible injustice — their womanhood. Women realize that they have the heavy burden in society — child rearing and the drudgery of housework — which they are expected to do with little or no pay and seemingly without due appreciation of their efforts. You know what they say: “A woman’s work is never done.” Men, meanwhile, have all the fun.
At least that is how many feminists see it. They have no idea how hard it is to be a man — to try to shoulder a man’s responsibility in a society where there are no jobs to provide an income for the family — with all the jobs in our overproductive economy having been taken by automation and robots and, increasingly, women. As neoliberal economics (Reaganomics, or voodoo economics) continues its relentless ruination of the economy and the society that depends on it, men’s inability to find a way out of the dilemma will only worsen.
Out of anger, resentment, frustration, women are rejecting their femininity. This is something many men just cannot understand. Men love their wives, even if they do not always show it. Men love their wives because of their femininity; they would not want them to be men (most men, anyway.) Men find it puzzling that women are unhappy, that women want more.
But some women do want more. Out of delusion and power lust, women are trying to be men, it seems, rejecting traditional roles more in keeping with man and woman’s complimentary nature.
No, more than that. Women want to be boss … boss of everything and everyone. This lust for power and dominance can easily lead us astray — can take us over the edge, so to speak. Actress and outspoken feminist Shirley MacLaine goes even further; she claims to be God. Now that’s someone all women can admire: a feminist whose ambition knows no bounds. But ask yourself, how do this woman’s views comport with reality?
MacLaine is due for a reality check — her date with destiny, so to speak. Hopefully, God will deal with MacLaine mercifully, as he did with St. Paul. When Paul of Tarsus — a Pharisee who had been putting Christians to death in accordance with Jewish custom — encountered the living Christ on the road to Damascus, the Lord asked him “Paul, why do you persecute me?” Paul quickly realized his mistake. Paul then proceeded to write much of the New Testament and convert half the world to the Christian faith.
Mindless insistence on equality in the workplace is exacting a heavy toll on society. Many jobs are unsuitable to women: policemen, firemen, soldiers, farmers, utility workers, truck drivers, auto mechanics, industrial workers … to name only a few. Yet every day, under pressure from feminists promoting a post-modernist worldview, public safety is diminished and public funds are wasted because of affirmative action programs which place women in roles for which they are not suited.
Does no one have any common sense any more? How can society survive in the face of collective insanity — or if not insanity, at least rampant stupidity?
The solution is simple, but it does require a reality-based perspective.
(chs 09-27-2018 1127 -0500)
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Women’s Anticipation of the Employment Effects of Motherhood: Evidence and Implications
Posted [to Naked Capitalism] on September 22, 2018 by Yves Smith
Yves here. I hate to sound like my usual nay-sayer self, but as a young thing, it seemed obvious that that idea that women could have it all, which meant a career and a family, was a myth. I do know women who have done it, but in the majority of those cases, either the wife or the husband has such a high income that they could afford a full time nanny (one woman I know had two). And those women, unlike aristocrats of the past who were perfectly content to fob off children to nannies and governesses, the women who had good nannies often felt the most guilty because their kids seemed to be developing stronger ties to them than to their mother.
But this post also discusses how “employment costs” of motherhood have increased because women spend more time childrearing…and query how much of that extra time is necessarily all that beneficial to the child. I’m thinking of changes like parents being expected to pick up their kids from school rather than letting them walk home and the pervasiveness of “play dates” (which entail parental scheduling and shuttling) as opposed to kids being trusted to organize their own time and get home by a specified hour.
Women’s Anticipation of the Employment Effects of Motherhood: Evidence and Implications
By Ilyana Kuziemko. Professor of Economics, Princeton University, Jessica Pan. Associate Professor of Economics, National University of Singapore, Jenny Shen, PhD student in Economics, Princeton University, and Ebonya Washington, Professor of Economics, Yale University. Originally published at VoxEU
Despite women having surpassed men in earning college degrees, having children later than ever, and accumulating increasing amounts of on-the-job experience, convergence in labour force participation between men and women has stalled. This column argues that one reason for this is women failing to anticipate the effect that children will have on their careers. The findings also suggest that the employment costs of motherhood have risen unexpectedly, and especially so for educated mothers.
Women’s lives have changed drastically over the past century. Women have surpassed men in earning college degrees, and they are having children later than ever, accumulating increasing amounts of on-the-job experience. Yet, since about 1990, convergence in labour force participation between men and women has stalled, even as societies have made progress on workplace gender discrimination (Blau and Kahn 2017). Why has this stalling occurred, especially as women are more prepared for the labour market than ever?
In a new paper, we propose a novel explanation for this phenomenon – that when they are making their key human capital decisions, women do not anticipate the effect that children will have on their careers (Kuziemko et al. 2018). We conclude with some speculations as to why and focus on a key trend – that the employment costs of motherhood have risen unexpectedly, and especially so for educated mothers.
Children continue to pose a considerable cost to careers, and that cost is disproportionately borne by women. Recent studies by Angelov et al. (2016) and Kleven et al. (forthcoming) using rich administrative data from Sweden and Denmark, respectively, provide compelling evidence that women’s careers diverge from that of men’s only after the birth of the first child. Using several nationally representative longitudinal datasets in the US and the UK, we replicate these findings, and estimate that in the five to ten years after birth, women’s employment rates decline by about 25-40 percentage points and show little evidence of recovery relative to the counterfactual no-baby trend (Figure 1 for the US). For men, we find little to no analogous effect.
Figure 1 Event-study analysis of how probability of employment changes after motherhood in the US
Our focus, however, is not primarily on these child penalties, but instead on why women continue to invest so heavily in their human capital development and yet drop out of the labour force at such high rates upon motherhood. We provide several pieces of evidence that suggest a potential role of the lack of anticipation of the career costs of motherhood, both in the short run and in the long run.
If women are not fully anticipating the employment effects of motherhood, we would expect that the birth of the first child serves as an information shock, causing them to update their beliefs regarding their ability to maintain both family and work commitments. Consistent with this idea, we find that women become more traditional in their attitudes about gender roles regarding work and family after the birth of their first child. For example, after becoming a mother, a woman is more likely to agree with statements such as “A family is harmed when the mother works outside the home,” and disagree with statements such as “Both a husband and a wife should contribute to household income.” Using an index of gender role attitudes that we construct using the available questions in each dataset, we find that women’s attitudes become significantly more ‘anti-work’ in the first two years post-baby and exhibit no recovery in the five years after birth (see Figure 2 for the UK). In fact, in the UK, women’s attitude change post-baby is morethan the average difference in gender-role attitudes between men and women. Interestingly, college-educated women appear most caught off-guard by motherhood, as they experience a larger ‘anti-work’ shift in their views than non-college-educated women. We find little evidence of a significant shift in men’s attitudes.
Figure 2 Event-study analysis of how gender-role attitudes change after motherhood in the UK
More directly related to our hypothesis, we look at survey questions from the PSID that ask parents if they think that parenthood was harder than they expected. Consistent with the finding above that educated women are most surprised and update their beliefs the most, we find that women agree with this statement much more than men, and, moreover, that college-educated women agree much more than non-college-educated women.
Why are college-educated women so caught off guard by the employment costs of motherhood, especially since motherhood is such a common occurrence? We hypothesise that expectations regarding the employment costs of motherhood play a major role – specifically, that women who foresaw a career requiring a college degree were exactly those women who believed that balancing work and raising children would be easier than it turned out to be. We specify a model with this dynamic at play, where women inherit an imperfect prediction of employment costs from their mothers and use this prediction to decide whether or not to attend college. The model shows that women who inherit the lowest predictions of costs attend college, whereas women with the highest predictions do not. Upon motherhood, true employment costs are revealed, and these educated women are negatively surprised by how difficult it is to combine work and family. Our model also demonstrates that our empirical results can only be reconciled by an unexpected increase in the employment costs of motherhood across generations.
The Longer View
How have expectations about career and family changed over time? To examine longer-run trends in career expectations, we look at what high school seniors thought they would be doing in their 30s and compare these expectations to what their cohorts ultimately did (Figure 3). We focus on high school seniors because they are at an age when they are making key decisions about attending college. As late as 1968, over 60% of female high school seniors expected to be homemakers at age 35. This expectation fell drastically over the ensuing decade, and by 1978, roughly 10% of high school seniors expected to be homemakers at age 30. Today, virtually no girl in her senior year of high school expects to be a homemaker when she turns 30.
Figure 3 Expectations and realizations of future home-making among US high school seniors
When we compare these expectations to reality, however, an interesting trend emerges. Whereas the class of 1968 overestimated the probability that they would be homemakers, the class of 1978 underestimatedthat probability. In particular, while over 60% of girls in the class of 1968 expected to be homemakers at age 35, only about a quarter of them ultimately were. (Note that all outcomes in this graph are plotted according to the year that a woman graduated from high school.) On the other hand, about 10% of the class of 1978 expected to be homemakers at age 30, but ultimately twice as many of them were. Since then, every cohort of graduating seniors has underestimated the likelihood that they would become homemakers.
Why has this reversal in expectations versus reality occurred? We argue that the employment costs of motherhood play a key role and, specifically, that across generations, there has been an unexpectedincrease in these employment costs. Several papers have emphasised the decline of costs of motherhood as a key driver of the rise in female labour force participation over much of the 20thcentury. For example, electrification that led to the widespread adoption of labour-saving household appliances (Greenwood et al. 2005) and medical innovations such as reduced morbidity associated with childbirth and infant formula (Albanesi and Olivetti 2016) enabled women to better reconcile work and family responsibilities, allowing them to enter the labour force in large numbers.
More recent data, however, suggest that these trends may have played out and employment costs of motherhood may, in fact, have risen for more recent cohorts of women. Time-use surveys document that time spent on childcare rose drastically around 1990, and especially so for college-educated mothers (Ramey and Ramey 2010). Figure 4 plots these time-use estimates, as well as other indicators that suggest that the employment costs of motherhood at different child ages have risen for more recent cohorts of new mothers.
Figure 4 Various proxies for ‘employment costs of motherhood’
Childcare costs over the past 50 years have roughly followed a U-shape. For example, breastfeeding rates fell in the 1950s and 1960s (in the US) but then began rising again in the 1970s. Other proxies for employment costs of motherhood, such as the dollar cost of childcare, have also been on the rise in the recent few decades.
Researchers have puzzled over the stalling of the gender gap in labour force participation, especially given concurrent trends that suggest that women have been investing increasingly in human capital accumulation. We propose a novel explanation for this puzzle: that when women are making key decisions about human capital investment, they underestimate just how costly child-rearing will be to their careers. We use several pieces of evidence to provide support for our hypothesis. Most notably, women (but not men) become more ‘anti-work’ in their attitudes about gender norms regarding work and family upon becoming mothers, and educated mothers are most surprised by the employment costs of parenthood. Over the longer run, cohorts of graduating female seniors once overestimated the probability that they would stay at home and raise children, while more recent cohorts of graduating seniors now increasingly underestimate that probability. We provide some speculative evidence that rising costs of childcare, after decades of decline, may be responsible for this lack of anticipation on women’s part. To address the remaining gender gaps in the labour market, there is a pressing need for future work to examine the underlying causes of this apparent increase in the employment costs of motherhood.
See original post [at VoxEU] for references