Monday, March 16, 2015

Why a female child might be better for mothers in developing countries

An ILO report suggests that women who have a daughter to help out with household tasks lessens the earnings gap they would otherwise face

A women picks vegetables from her garden as her daughter looks on at Ha-Monamoleli village, about 40 kilometres east of Maseru, February 27, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (LESOTHO - Tags: AGRICULTURE ANIMALS)

Female workers will earn less than men for another 70 years if current trends continue, a report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) says – but the pay gap is even wider for mothers.
In most countries, women with children generally earn less than those without. This trend – labelled the “motherhood pay gap” by the ILO – is at its most extreme in developing countries.
A 2011 study of 21 less developed countries (mostly in Latin America and Africa) is highlighted in the report. It shows that mothers’ pay was 42% lower on average than that of women without children.
The divide is especially pronounced when children are under six years old – indicating the detrimental effect of having dependants in a culture where women are expected to take the brunt of childcare.
 Chart: ILO
The report also found that there was a less harmful impact on women’s earnings if they had a girl. The researchers believe this was because a daughter was more likely to help out with household chores and childcare when they got older.
When a child is under three, gender makes no difference to the mother’s pay decline. However, in the 11-13 age bracket, boys have a more detrimental effect on earnings than girls.

The effect in developed countries

It is difficult to compare wage differences across countries because of the different welfare and societal systems.
However, the ILO says: 
In many European countries, for example, having one child has only a small negative effect, but women with two and especially three children experience a significant wage penalty.
A 2005 study found that when wages were not varied based on the economic circumstances of a country, there was large variation across Europe in terms of the effect two children had on a woman’s earnings.
While there is a slight premium for mothers in France, Italy and Denmark – there was a negative earnings effect of around 10% or over in Portugal and Germany.
The UK fared the worst out of any of these countries with mothers of two children earning 25% less than they could have done without them.
 Chart: ILO
The ILO report also includes a chart of wage penalties adjusted for economic circumstance across seven developed countries from a 2003 study. Even here, the UK fares considerably worse than similar economies such as the US and Canada. These calculations also show women losing nearly a quarter of their earnings.
 Chart: ILO
The leader of the right-wing UK independence party (Ukip) Nigel Farage recently commented that women having lower earnings in some jobs was a “fact of life”.
While it certainly is a fact in Britain, the better performance of other countries suggests that the UK could take some steps to improve the gender pay gap.

No comments:

Post a Comment