Effects of Family Events on Wages: The Challenge of Heterogeneous Careers

Speaker: Volker Ludwig

University of Kaiserslautern

This event is part of the Sociology Seminar Series, which will take place online throughout Michaelmas Term 2020.

Abstract: How does family life intervene with the career of women and men? To answer this question, it is crucial to take the heterogeneity of career trajectories into account.  On the individual level, heterogeneous careers may result in biased estimates of the effects of critical family events on wages. Recent work shows that the well-known finding of a marital wage premium for men is in fact spurious, because the higher wage growth of to-be-married men has been neglected in earlier studies. I argue that other findings in the literature may be affected in similar ways. On the macro level, patterns of career mobility differ substantially across countries and across time. I argue that the degree of heterogeneity of career trajectories is systematically related to the overall level and development of wage inequality. Hence, from a comparative perspective, we need to take country-specific differences in the wage structure into account in order to evaluate career effects of family events. In my empirical analysis, I re-examine existing results on male wage premiums for cohabitation and fatherhood. I show results for men in five countries (U.S., U.K., East and West Germany, Switzerland). In addition, I address findings on differential effects of motherhood by women’s level of skills and by birth timing. 

The Sociology Seminar Series for Trinity Term is convened by Christopher Barrie, Fangqi Wen and Tobias Ruttenauer. For more information about this or any of the seminars in the series, please contact