Single, child-free women out-earn single, child-free men

Single, child-free women out earn single, child-free men


In the US, single women without children are earning more than single men without children, according to new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Nation-wide, a growing number of women are choosing to delay motherhood or refusing it entirely. As a result, they are progressing further in their careers. In 2019, they made an average salary of US$65,000 (AUD$95,170), while their male counterparts received on average US$57,000 (AUD$83,456).

Some researchers believe the hardships of parenting were exposed during the pandemic, resulting in a growing cohort of adults deciding to forgo parenthood altogether. 

A recent Pew Research Center study found that 44 per cent of adult, child-free Americans aged 18-49 say it is not too likely or not at all likely they will become parents in the future. 

In 2018, that figure was 37 per cent. 

In the last three decades, US birthrates have been falling as people delay marriage and decide not to have children. 

According to a Census Bureau study, there were roughly 71 births per year for every 1,000 women age 15 to 44 in 1990. 

In 2019 the number had dropped to 58 births per year for every 1,000 women. 

Some experts blame the rising cost of raising a family for the growing number of adults declining to have children. 

Recent analysis by the Brookings Institution revealed that raising a child born in 2015 from birth to the child’s 17th birthday will cost a household up to US$310,605, (AUD$454,772) excluding college education costs. 

Studies have also revealed the devastating disadvantages faced by mothers who re-enter the workforce, commonly known as the “motherhood penalty”. 

Julie Kashen, director for women’s economic justice at the Century Foundation, says research has consistently shown there is a consequence for your earnings of having kids. 

“The whole purpose of the women’s movement is to maximize choices for women so that every choice is a viable one,” Kashen told Bloomberg. “Income should not be a thing that dictates that, which it totally is right now.”

Kashen’s research prior to the pandemic revealed that the motherhood penalty can reach up to 15 per cent of one’s annual income for each child under the age of 5. 

Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland, Melissa Kearney believes that cultural shifts are influencing women’s decisions to delay or skip motherhood. 

“It seems like people’s priorities have shifted,” Kearney said. 

“It’s not necessarily that people have less of a preference for kids, or that it’s that much more expensive or time-consuming to have kids. It’s the way those two things are interacting for this generation vs. prior ones.”

Nicole Sussner Rodgers, founder and executive director of Family Story, a Washington-based think tank working to dismantle family privilege, believes our culture encourages nuclear families and discourages single parenthood: “It’s an ideological bias still enshrined in law and policy, and one that needs to be tackled head-on,” she explained earlier this year.

“People feel less of an obligation to the family they were born into in all sorts of ways, and to embrace this notion of chosen family,” Rodgers told Bloomberg


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