Gender norms and the child penalty: evidence from the Dutch bible belt

Sara Rellstab*

*Corresponding author for this work

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There are substantial gender gaps in earnings once children are born in many developed countries, despite similar education levels of men and women and accessible childcare facilities. I examine whether gender norms are a driver of women’s higher labour market costs of having children using Dutch administrative data. Exploiting large local variation in gender norms in the Netherlands, I compare parents from the Dutch bible belt, where gender norms are on average less egalitarian, with parents from other regions in the Netherlands, where gender norms are more egalitarian. My findings show that having children leads an about 30% larger earnings decrease for women in the bible belt, mainly driven by a larger reduction in working hours. I rule out that differences in pre-child parental characteristics and institutions such as childcare availability explain this result and argue that different gender norms in these two areas likely explain this finding.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Economics
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Oct 2023

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


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