women income children education

How childbirth and education effect your income

For women, having children can effect certain variables of our career.

One such variable is salary/income.

Some questions that come to mind are:

  1. How does the age at which you have children impact your income over the long term?
  2. Does education play a part and to what extent?

Researchers looked into these matters, using a pool of 1.6 million Danish women from 1995 to 2009, aged 25-60, to in order to get some insights.


The first and most prominent variable that came up, was the age at which women had children.

Women who were less than 25 years, when they had their first born, saw the largest lifetime income loss. On average, over the lifetime of their careers, these mothers lost the equivalent of roughly 2.5 years of income, as a result of having a child at that stage in life.

Those who fared best were women who had their first child after age 30. Women who had minimal lifetime income loss due to having children, were 31 years of age or older, at the time they had their first child.


A college education is another variable that plays a role, albeit a relatively smaller one.

Of the women who had their first child before the age of 25, those who possessed college degrees suffered an overall income loss which was 20 percent less than those without college degrees.


Some more statistics from the study:

  • Among the group of women under 25 when they had their first child, those who attained college degrees had a lifetime income loss of -204%; those without, -252%.
  • Women who first give birth before the age of 28, with or without a college education, consistently earn less during their careers than equally educated women who do not have any children.
  • Women without a college education, who give birth after age 28 witness a short-term loss in income but eventually catch up with the lifetime earnings of women who have no children.
  • College-educated women who do not have their first children until after 31, earn more over their careers than women with no children.
  • Those women who delay their first child until age 37, add around half a year of salary to lifetime earnings.

“Children do not kill careers, but the earlier children arrive the more their mother’s income suffers. There is a clear incentive for delaying,” said Raul Santaeulalia-Llopis, one of the researcher of the study.

Published by

Michelle Tan - Senior Consultant, Sandbox Advisors

Michelle has years of experience as a multi-lingual lecturer/trainer and has worked with clients such as Marina Bay Sands, Resorts World Sentosa, Comfort Transportation and Nanyang Technological University. She has attained an impressive array of academic qualifications, including a Master of Science in Industrial Psychology and Management, Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics, Professional Diploma for Teachers and Trainers, Associate Degree in Japanese Linguistics & Culture, and a Diploma in Mass Communication.

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