Motherhood Penalties and Living Arrangements in China

Jia Yu, Yu Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Past research on the “motherhood wage penalty” has been based on data from nuclear families, leaving open the possibility that the motherhood wage penalty may be lower or even absent in multigenerational families. In this article, the wage gap between mothers and nonmothers is examined in nuclear and multigenerational families in the context of contemporary China, which has a long tradition of patriarchal families. Using 1993 to 2006 China Health and Nutrition Survey data, the magnitude and variation of motherhood penalty is explored with fixed effects models among 1,058 women. The results show that each additional child lowers hourly wages by about 12%. In addition, the motherhood penalty is largest for women living with their husbands' parents, smaller for women not living with parents, and nil for women living with their own parents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1067-1086
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • child care
  • gender roles
  • grandparents
  • intergenerational relationships
  • motherhood
  • work–family issues


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