Paternity Pays

Claire Cain Miller discusses new findings showing that having kids furthers men’s but not women’s careers:

This bias is most extreme for the parents who can least afford it, according to new data from Michelle Budig, a sociology professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who has studied the parenthood pay gap for 15 years. High-income men get the biggest pay bump for having children, and low-income women pay the biggest price, she said in a paper published this month by Third Way, a research group that aims to advance moderate policy ideas. … [M]uch of the pay gap seems to arise from old-fashioned notions about parenthood. “Employers read fathers as more stable and committed to their work; they have a family to provide for, so they’re less likely to be flaky,” Ms. Budig said. “That is the opposite of how parenthood by women is interpreted by employers. The conventional story is they work less and they’re more distractible when on the job.”

Update from a reader:

Hi Andrew, welcome back! I have no doubt that paternity pays, at least in the corporate world, and need look no further than the phrase I most despise when used in a business setting: Family Man. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, following a hire or a promotion, “Bill’s a great guy, a family man”. It doesn’t matter if Bill is a good father/husband, just that he is one. You will never hear, “Jill is a great gal, a family woman”. Family Man = Stable, solid, dependable. Family Woman = More devoted to family than career. This is why it pays to be a dad.