Musick, Kelly

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Now showing 1 - 2 of 2
  • Publication
    Changes in Couples’ Earnings Following Parenthood and Trends in Family Earnings Inequality
    (2020-07-26) Gonalons-Pons, Pilar; Schwartz, Christine R.; Musick, Kelly
    The growing economic similarity of spouses has contributed to rising income inequality across households. Explanations have typically centered on assortative mating, but recent work has argued that changes in women’s employment and spouses’ division of paid work have played a more important role. We expand this work to consider the critical turning point of parenthood in shaping couples’ division of employment and earnings. Drawing on three U.S. nationally representative surveys, we examine the role of parenthood in spouses’ earnings correlations between 1968-2015 and ask to what extent changes in spouses’ earnings correlations are due to: (1) changes upon entry into marriage (assortative mating), (2) changes between marriage and parenthood, (3) changes following parenthood, and (4) changes in women’s employment. Our findings show that increases in the correlation between spouses’ earnings prior to 1990 came largely from changes between marriage and first birth, but after 1990 have come almost entirely from changes following parenthood. In both instances, changes in women’ employment are key to increasing earnings correlations. Changes in assortative mating played little role in either time period. An assessment of the aggregate-level implications points to the growing significance of earnings similarity after parenthood for rising income inequality across families.
  • Publication
    Change and Variation in Couples' Earnings Equality Following Parenthood
    (2021-03-31) Musick, Kelly; Gonalons-Pons, Pilar; Schwartz, Christine
    Couples’ earnings equality declines substantially following a first birth, when time commitments at home and on the labor market diverge. In the context of broad increases in gender equality and growing socioeconomic disparities along various dimensions of family life, we examine changes in within-family earnings equality following parenthood and the extent to which they have played out differently by mothers’ education. Our analysis relies on links between rich surveys and administrative tax records that provide high quality earnings data for husbands and wives spanning two years before and up to 10 years following cohorts of first births from the 1980s to the 2000s (Survey of Income and Program Participation Synthetic Beta files; N =131,400 married couples and 21,300 first birth transitions). We find that wives’ share of couple earnings declined after parenthood, changes were relatively modest over time, and these were mostly concentrated among the earliest cohort of parents. The magnitude of decline in her earnings share was substantial, dropping 13 percentage points following first birth in the 1980s and 10 percentage points in the 2000s, after accounting for time-invariant couple characteristics and year and age fixed effects. We find few differences in her earnings share changes over time by mother’s education, and we identify mothers’ employment as a key mechanism of change across education groups. Wives’ financial dependence on their husbands increases substantially after parenthood, irrespective of education and cohort, with implications for women’s vulnerability, particularly in the U.S. where divorce remains common and public support for families is weak.