Gender, Race, and Family Status Inequality in Labor Markets


This project addresses related questions about inequality in labor markets resulting from gender, race, and family status in the United States and Europe. Firstly, I analyze (with (Profs. Michelle J. Budig and Melissa Hodges) racial and gender differences in the effects of educational attainment on wages in the United States. Importantly, we look at various education specifications and use regression decomposition and wage return models with race and gender interactions to explore group differences in educational attainment and its impact on pay gaps. Group differences in educational attainment explain some of the race pay gap, but none of the gender pay gap. Instead, we find systematic evidence of lower returns to the same credentials for blacks relative to whites, for women relative to men, and most strikingly for black women relative to everyone else. Our comprehensive analysis extends the literature greatly by using an intersectional lens to address questions of inequality in the impact of education on pay.

Secondly, in collaboration with Prof. Michelle J. Budig, I investigate the relationship between motherhood and self-employment participation in 7 westernized countries with varying work-family policy contexts. Using longitudinal panel data, we consider how work-family policies and national labor market characteristics relate to mother’s self-employment participation in professional and non-professional occupations. Findings show that in policy contexts that emphasize maternal employment, we observe a pattern of careerist moves into entrepreneurial endeavors and strong preschool child effects on self-employment entrance. This suggests professionals may use self-employment to circumvent a mommy track in wage employment. In policy contexts that emphasize maternal care of young children, findings point to the use of self-employment as a path back into the labor force for mothers of young children. Lastly, in work-family contexts that offer little support for maternal employment or caregiving, patterns suggest that non-professionals may use self-employment as a strategy to balance paid and unpaid work.

Thirdly, I study how racial disparities in the motherhood wage penalty have evolved between two generations in the US: baby boomers and millennials. Previous research has shown that white mothers face a greater motherhood wage penalty than Black or Hispanic mothers, with marriage playing a significant role as a mediator in these disparities. Using recent cohort data (NLSY97), this study reveals that Hispanic mothers face a greater and significant wage penalty compared to white or Black mothers among millennials. In contrast to baby boomers, millennial married mothers do not experience a larger wage penalty than mothers in other partnership statuses across all race groups. These findings call for a re-evaluation of the relationship between race, marriage, and the motherhood wage penalty among millennials.

Main content

Ausgewählte Publikationen

Budig, Michelle J./Lim, Misun (Forthcoming). “Women, Children, and Self-Employment Cross-Nationally: Do Work-Family Policy Contexts Matter?” In Research Handbook on Self-Employment and Public Policy, Reuter, Enrico (Ed.). UK: Edward Elgar Publishing .

Budig, Michelle J./Lim, Misun/Hodges, Melissa J. (2021): "Racial and Gender Pay Disparities. The Role of Education". In: Social Science Research, Vol. 98, No. August, Article 102580. (vorab online publiziert 16.05.2021)