The modern workplace is the most equitable in history. At noother point in developed nations have men, women, races and minorities had suchequal rights to work and had such opportunities to work, with laws preventingdiscrimination being increasingly introduced in the last several decades. For instance, the ONS (2017) recently claimedthe gender pay gap in the UK had dropped to a record low, across all fields.However, despite this advancement in opportunities inequality is still rifewith huge social divisions growing. More worryingly however is the fact a newgap is appearing; the family gap. This gap is related to significant variancesin income for individuals who have children/family and those who chose not toraise a family whilst working thus dividing society further still.
Is it timefor policy against this form of discrimination to be introduced?Traditionally variation in the labour market have beenfocussed on females earning less than women; early this year a report in the UKwas published showing the lower average incomes for women than men in 500 topcompanies (BBC, 2018). Over the course of recent history women were expected torelinquish jobs when having children or simply never take a job and maintainthe homestead whilst her husband was the ‘bread winner’. Even today some womenwith children may be less likely to go back to work.
It is this societal expectationwhich is causing new divides within nations. However, it is important torealise male parents are now taking paternity leave and altering the structureof their life in a similar way to mothers (Rehel, 2013). It therefore stands toreason that men can also be discriminated against in the same way that womenare currently experiencing, in regard to having a family. Inequality in society is becoming a more and more centraldebate. Therefore, this study proposes to analyse the impact of children on menand women’s labour market activity (particularly the impact that children haveon their parent’s positions within the workplace) and find market solutions tothe emerging issues to prevent the spread of inequality between men and womenwith families and those without.
The study will initially focus on the UK, dueto the readily available data set ‘The British Household Panel Survey;Understanding Society’, however will be later expanded to consider otherdeveloped, due to their similar working laws, from Europe and across the worldin cross country analysis to see if the trends are global or limited to nation’sbecause of individual factors, with the ultimate aim of providing policy recommendationsto curtail the spread of inequality in society. Literature ReviewPrimary research, Ruckdeschel (2009), proposes there is anegative attitude towards working mothers in developed nations which thusprohibits mothers from easily accessing the work place or earning the wagesthey were previously accustomed. Salamaliki (2012), proves the existence of anegative relationship between female labour supply with the number of childrenshe has. In other words, the more children a woman has the less she works.
Thisevidence suggests incompatibility hypothesis, which considers women’semployment and fertility affecting each other reciprocally. Sobotka et al.(2011), find the reverse of this relationship, thus inferring a similar result,by proving in recessions women work more and have less children due to hardereconomic conditions changing their immediate priorities and mentality of havingchildren.
O’Neill (2003) further validates this finding and suggests that acontinual wage gap over their working life is partly attributable to theemployment gender gap that exists after both men and women become parents.These findings could be explained by the fact women and/or men chose not towork after having children due to wanting to spend time with their children, orthe high price of child care would erode their standard of living renderingwork pointless. However, this does not justify or explain wage differentialsand discrimination in the labour force if they wish to return. Despite the evidence suggesting women are less likely toparticipate in the labour market after having children one more recent studyconducted by Borck (2014) suggests the contrary. It is suggested in this studythat women who have children often work more, a positive relationship, found ina cross-country analysis and seen in the graph below.
Although, this anomalycan be explained by the fact children are expensive and as such some mothersmay have to work more to raise their child and maintain the household income,especially if the family erodes their wages. Satisfaction with life is also important to consider withinthis field. Haller and Hadler (2006) show in their study that having childrenputs additional strain on parent’s mental wellbeing (both men and women) causedby the pressure of caring and raising the child well. The wide range of otherliterature including Frey and Stutzer (2000) and Di Tella et al; Smith (2003)validate Haller and Hadler’s findings with the latter stating a greaterdecrease in satisfaction arising in developed nations such as the UK and theUSA with an additional child. This fall in life satisfaction could be key tothe fall in labour market activity as a fall in motivation to work andsatisfaction derived from work would inevitably curve an individual’sperformance hindering promotion opportunities and/or participation at all.
Concurrently it also provides explanation for why the family gap has arisen forthose who do work. A desire to raise children well, regardless of their mentalwellbeing, necessitates labour market participation, even under discriminatoryconditions, to supply a certain level of income and living standards forchildren.Labour market activity, it must be remembered, does not onlystate whether an individual is at work or not. It also covers promotionalopportunities, wages and number of hours worked. One study by Gjerberg (2012)considered promotional opportunities to find that the probability of womenspecialising in their chosen fields fell after having children. Similarly,Windsor (2006) proved children significantly affected management advances offemale accountants. If these findings are true for females it is likely thatmen, especially single fathers, suffer the same outcome.
DataThe data set used in the initial proposal is a crosssection, wave 6, of ‘Understanding Society – The UK Household LongitudinalSurvey’. This project is an extension of the original British Household PanelSurvey which began in 1991, with the aim to capture important informationregarding “people’s social and economic circumstances, attitudes, behavioursand health”1.The statistical analysis program SPSS will be used to examine this data.Before considering models, the data set first must becleaned. Any negative value in response to a question within the survey had tobe removed in ensure the most precise results possible. Values -11 to -1 wererecoded so that they will not be taken into consideration during analysis.Moreover, the values for income are set at -1000000 to .000 to preventborrowers influencing results when income is considered.
Due to the nature of this project focussing upon thedifference in male and female labour activities, the first task was to separatethese categories. This will be done by setting up two interchangeable filtersto search for men (Filter: f_sex=1) and women (Filter: f_sex=2) in isolation. ModelThe first model considered for use in this investigation wasthe ordinary least squares model. However, this model proved to be flawed dueto the model providing answers outside the range of 0 and 1 rendering resultsinapplicable to the binary dependant variable. A Logit model will therefore beused to conduct analysis of the categorical dependant variable where resultswill be limited to between 0 and 1, and measured to 1%, 5% and 10% significancelevels. The dependant variables used will be coded to dummyvariables so that results will be given in logit form. The first dependantvariable will be called ‘EconomicallyActive’.
This is coded from the variable’b_jstat’ in the raw data set with 1=economically active and 0=economicallyinactive. A second dependant variable will be coded also to consider theeffects of employment opportunities with 1=higher positions and 0=lowerpositions. The explanatory variables used will include being married, theirlevel of education (set to a minimum of 12 years or more), the having childrenor not, age, income, white, if they live in an urban area, and location incountry.The proposed models are as follows:EconomicallyActive = ?0+ ?1married + ?2education + ?3children + ?4white + ?5age + ?6lnincome+ ?7urban + ?8location + uJobClass = ?0+ ?1married + ?2education + ?3children + ?4white + ?5age + ?6lnincome+ ?7urban + ?8location + uBy controlling for the presence of children, their effect onindividual’s economic activity (and income) and their effect dependant onindividual circumstances will be able to be critically evaluated. The model,and any subsequent changes, will be run through the previously mentionedfilters to assess the difference between males and females.
This will providethe preliminary findings. From here dummy variables for the number of children,level of education, ethnicity and geographical location can be added to themodel to investigate more precise areas of interest. If possible data onworking laws will also be recovered and coded as dummy variables and controlledfor2. After these initial trials have been conducted, and appropriatelyadjusted, data will be gathered from other developed nations. World Bank Dataprovides information regarding GDP per capita. It is from this data that othernations will be selected. Other nations of roughly the same income as the UK (USA,Canada, New Zealand, Japan and UAE) and three very high-income countries(Monaco, Lichtenstein and Luxembourg) will initially be considered, with optionfor appropriate expansion.
With a range of nations considered a trend can orcannot be identified. This will provide preliminary evidence as to whether thisis a phenomenon secular to the UK or not. The study can also be furtherexpanded for developing nations however the availability of data anddifferences in cultures and working laws are likely to distort findings. Thesefindings will direct policy implications in the direction of a globalsuggestion of employment laws or on purely national levels which can be morefinely honed.ConclusionIn summary, the world, especially in developed nations, ischanging.
Everybody is now entitled to work and has the greatest opportunitiesto work in history. However, we still inin the most inequitable society, financially, in history with the rich gettingricher and men possessing the majority of high paying jobs. This issue must bedealt with at an international and national level. One way to counteract thisdivision is by identifying the differences between male and female groups, inthis case caused by children known as the family gap. This proposedinvestigation hopes to locate these particular causes of disparity betweenmales and females, who do and don’t have families, through statistical analysis,here exemplified using data from the UK, and develop appropriate policyresponses to help prevent the rise of inequality between people with andwithout families.
1Understanding Society. (2016). About the Study2Note further expansion of the model is dependent on the impact of significancelevels and the issue of multicollinearity and models will be refinedaccordingly