Saturday, October 21, 2006

The benefits of delaying maternity :: Dear Economist

Or: Why economists like those little Miss Steaks.

Amalia Miller, an economist at the University of Virginia, studied the timing of maternity and its effect on earnings. That effect is large: delay maternity by just one year and you can expect your career earnings to rise by 10 per cent, partly because you will work longer hours and partly because you will enjoy a better wage rate. For professionals like you, the wage effect is even higher.

These numbers strip out the effects of choice, because they are all based on accidents. Professor Miller made three types of comparison. She compared women who became mothers at 27 with those who became mothers at 28 despite both groups using contraception and therefore not choosing the timing. She also compared women who successfully got pregnant at 27 with women who tried at 27 but did not succeed for a year; or women who miscarried at 27 and then got pregnant again a year later. The women wanted the same date of pregnancy but bad luck intervened - and their careers benefited.

Professor Miller’s results suggest that you should leave your pregnancy as late as you dare. Her methods remind you, though, that you may not get to decide.
UPDATE: See also this new CBO study, The Effect of a First Child on Female Labor Supply: Evidence from Women Seeking Fertility Services, by Julian P. Cristia.


Anonymous Afiq said...

can you post more details of the study, like more figures which can explain better why maternity should be delayed....if people really apply this to their life i dont think they will ever get to the maternity stage, as people's wants are unlimited they would want their earnings to keep on increasing every year. There might be a limit after which earning will stop increasing...that is what i wanted to know if you could get to post the study in a bit more detail...

11:36 AM  

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