Baby Wage Gap Gender Race Flickr / Blue Skyz Media
Fall Into The Gap

How Having A Baby Changes Your Income, By Race And Gender

Right now your baby knows nothing about money, unless you played a lot of “2 Tickets To Paradise” while they were in the womb. Why doesn’t he just pack his bags and leave already? What’s he waiting for?

You, however, know a lot about money (right?). That makes you particularly susceptible to drowning out your financial worries by listening to old 80s rockers at high volume. But your economically ignorant bundle of joy just might be good news for your family earnings! That is, if you’re white. Oh, and also if you’re not a woman.

The Post-Baby Bump

A 2014 study by University of Massachusetts Amherst professor Michelle Budig found that dudes who are dads will see an average pay increase of 6 percent. And while that’s probably not enough to put you in the one percent, it probably can’t hurt. But the question is: why does this happen?

flickr / Carissa Rogers

flickr / Carissa Rogers

Budig found it’s not really because you’re working any harder than normal. In fact, she attributed extra hustle to just 16 percent of any post-baby increase. Her conclusion was that fatherhood is a sought-after quality in an employee. It comes with a perceived sense of responsibility and stability, even though you drink like a fish and keep your LinkedIn humming for future possibilities.

Unfortunately, it also helps if you’re white. Budig’s research found that black fathers do not see an increase in their pay. That held true even in cases of highly educated black men with good economic status. So much for the post-racial society.

The Post-Baby Wage Gap

But black fathers don’t have it as bad mothers. According to Budig’s research, women actually see a decrease in pay for each child that they have. That decrease is up to 4 percent, but can be even higher for women of color in low status jobs. So much for even talking about a post-racial society.

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flickr / US Department of Education

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Again, looking for some explanation, Budig found that the loss in wages had very little to do with a woman somehow working less after a child. It was more likely connected to some perceived risk that mothers would become more focused on family than work. Turns out, that’s not true.

The story gets worse when you factor in the socioeconomic status of mother in question. For a slim minority of elite women working in high status, high paying jobs, they actually do see a parent bonus similar to men. But for those who are the worst off, the motherhood penalty could be up to 6 percent.

So what do you do with all of this? Well, if you’re a white dude, hopefully you sack up and do something to help make the world a bit more equitable, bro — if nothing else, make sure you raise a kid who knows better. Or you can just sit back and enjoy that net 2-percent gain in family wages and sing Baby Hold On as loud as you can to drown out the constant nagging guilt.

For everyone else? Just put another couple pounds of weight on the crushing burden of inequality that you carry on your shoulders every day. Sadly, Eddie Money ain’t going to help you with this one. Shit.