How Cultural Attitudes and Work-Family Policies Combine to Predict Maternal Earnings Cross-Nationally

Michelle J. Budig, University of Massachusetts
Joya Misra, University of Massachusetts
Irene Boeckmann, University of Massachusetts

Mothers’ employment and earnings partly depend on social policies and cultural norms supporting women’s paid and unpaid work. Previous research suggests that work-family policies are deeply shaped by their cultural context. Using original social policy data, micro data from the LIS, and attitudinal data from the ISSP, we examine country variation in the overall and partial associations between motherhood and wages, in cultural attitudes surrounding women’s employment, and in childcare and parental leave policies. We then model how cultural attitudes moderate the impact of policies on women’s earnings across countries. Associations between wages and policies supporting maternal employment are amplified by cultural norms regarding gender, caregiving, and employment. Parental leaves and public childcare are associated with higher earnings for mothers when cultural support for maternal employment is high, but have less positive or even negative relationships with earnings where cultural attitudes support the male breadwinner/ female caregiver model.

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Presented in Session 183: Work and Family