Wages and employment chances for women: the role of expected and actual fertility

Chiara Mussida, Stephen Mckay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Motherhood is often associated with reduced labour market prospects. However, any ‘motherhood penalty’ may reflect selection effects as well as direct causal effects of having children. We extend the discussion to look at how intentions towards future fertility – and whether they are realised – affect labour market chances for women (employment participation opportunities and wages). We examine high quality UK longitudinal micro-data from the British Household Panel Survey covering eighteen years (1991-2009), using Heckman selection models with full maximum likelihood. We find that expectations toward fertility, in addition to actual fertility, affect the prospects of remaining in paid work. Plans concerning children, and their outcomes, affect the labour market chances of women and this might be due both to inequality taking place within the home and in the workplace. Analysis of expected fertility provides some insights into whether having children is itself the causal factor in labour market prospects of women.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-282
Number of pages28
JournalRivista Internazionale di Scienze Sociali
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Motherhood penalty, Fertility, Employment, Heckman selection model, Exclusion restrictions, Longitudinal.


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