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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


A key obstacle to workplace gender equality are the processes that occur in the family, and thus a target of family policies. We examine how family status affects the gender wage gap using longitudinal matched employer-employee data from Norway, 1979-1996, a period with extensive expansion of family policies. The motherhood penalty dropped dramatically from 1979 to 1996. Among men the premia for marriage and fatherhood remained constant. In 1979, the wage gap was primarily due to the motherhood penalty, by 1996 it was primarily due to husband premia and the penalty to being female irrespective of family situation.

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