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Open Access Publications from the University of California

From Motherhood Penalties to Husband Premia: The New Challenge for Gender Equality and Family Policy, Lessons from Norway


Given the key role that processes occurring in the family play in cre- ating gender inequality, the family is a central focus of policies aimed at creating greater gender equality. We examine how family status affects the gender wage gap using longitudinal matched employer- employee data from Norway, 1979 – 96, a period with extensive expan- sion of family policies. The motherhood penalty dropped dramatically from 1979 to 1996. Among men the premia for marriage and father- hood remained constant. In 1979, the gender wage gap was primarily due to the motherhood penalty, but by 1996 husband premia were more important than motherhood penalties.

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