A new study out of Statistics Canada shows that women who have children earn significantly less employment income than women without children. The study found, for example that,
Age-earnings profiles of Canadian mothers and women without children show that women without children systematically earned more than women with children. At age 30, for example, the average earnings of women with and without children age hourly earnings of women with children were $15.20 while those for women without children were $18.10 (2004 dollars). Averaging the differences over all plausible ages showed that hourly earnings of mothers were about 12% lower than those of their childless counterparts.
The gap increases for each child a women has. For women with university education, the income gap between childless women and mothers exist at every age group.
The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits employers from discriminating against women on the basis that they have children. This is caught by the ground “family status”, which is defined as “the status of being in a parent and child relationship”. Yet this “child penalty” gap persists. Is this evidence that the human rights model is a failure? If so, and if we believe that it is good for society that women not be punished for having children, how could the state change the law to eliminate the gap? What do you think of the economic argument that mothers earn less than non-mothers because they are less productive (owing to their greater absence from work)? Should the state accept that rationale and therefore not be concerned with the gap?