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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Michelle J. Budig

Subject Categories

Inequality and Stratification


Using the 1980- 2008 waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), this dissertation examines how parenthood exacerbates gender wage inequality within married, heterosexual households and across families stratified by race and social class. The majority of research on motherhood penalties and fatherhood premiums investigates how individual men and women’s earnings change after the arrival of children, yet it is unclear how parental bonuses and penalties accrue within coupled households. Although studies investigating child effects on individuals’ wages draw on theoretical explanations that rely on the joint decision-making of couples, empirical analysis rarely situates the effects of children on earnings within couples. This dissertation reveals that wage inequality associated with parenthood not only amplifies the gender wage gap, but also contributes to wage inequality among couples, net of couples’ work effort, educational attainment, income level, and racial/ethnic group membership. Importantly, the degree to which parenthood exacerbates gender wage inequality within the household varies by educational attainment, work hours, and racial/ethnic group of coupled partners.