Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jessamyn Schaller, Ph.D.

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This paper seeks to establish the magnitude of the long-run motherhood wage penalty. Using data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, I examine the difference between the real hourly wages of mothers and non-mothers in the long run. By comparing mothers to not-yet-mothers as well as never-mothers, I am able to better isolate the true wage penalty mothers face. My findings indicate that 21 to 25 years after the birth of their first child, mothers face a 31.75 percentage point wage penalty compared to non-mothers. In addition, I examine differences in the wage penalties of mothers by marital status, educational attainment, and race. My results suggest that married women face a 7.16 percentage point greater wage penalty than single women 20 years after the birth of their first child. I also find that mothers with over 16 years of schooling face a penalty twice the size of mothers who completed 12 or fewer years of schooling. Finally, I find that white mothers face the largest motherhood wage penalty, followed by Hispanic mothers and black mothers.