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Employment pathways and occupational change after childbirth

Harkness, S; Borkowska, M; Pelikh, A; (2019) Employment pathways and occupational change after childbirth. Government Equalities Office: London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

There is a large body of international evidence showing that women with children suffer large pay penalties (Harkness & Waldfogel, 2003). A potential explanation for this is that taking time out of the labour force or returning to work part-time may be damaging for career progression (Costa Dias, Joyce & Parodi, 2018; Waldfogel, 1998). If this is the case, the employment trajectories that women follow in the years following birth will have important implications for women’s future pay. Alternatively, on their return to work women may take up jobs with lower occupational status than those they held previously, or their careers may progress at a slower rate than those of childless women or men. In either case this may contribute to a fall in the relative earnings of mothers. Moreover, the competing demands of work and families may be greater in some jobs than others and if this is the case we might expect the risk of occupational downgrading, and of exiting employment or moving to part-time work, to vary across industries or occupations. Using data from Understanding Society for 2009/10-2016/17 this report assesses the extent to which women, by opting out of employment, moving to part-time work or to jobs with lower occupational status, ‘downgrade’ their careers following childbirth. We examine how the careers of new mothers and fathers progress between the year before birth and either three or five years after (we observe 2,281 new mothers for three years, and 1,199 for five). Using sequence analysis, we build a rich descriptive picture of the typical employment pathways men and women follow after birth. The report then examines how a broad range of pre-birth job characteristics (such as working hours, industry or sector) and personal and family characteristics (such as age at birth, education and number of children) influence the chance of moving out of the labour force, into part- or full-time work, and the probability of occupational down (or up) grading. The final part of the report examines how, among couples, patterns of ‘breadwinning,’ described by the employment status and relative earnings shares of men and women within couples, evolve over the same period.

Type: Report
Title: Employment pathways and occupational change after childbirth
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/governmen...
Language: English
Additional information: © Crown copyright 2019. This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 (nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3) except where otherwise stated.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute > IOE - Social Science Research Unit
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10138178
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