Økonomisk Eksploratorium # 31: Motherhood and the Cost of Job Search

Why do women experience a persistent drop in employment and wages upon becoming mothers?

Join us at Økonomisk Eksploratorium #31 for a presentation of this new research by Daphné Skandalis.

Daphné highlights some of the mechanisms on the labor supply side by studying the changes in search behavior associated with motherhood. She combines two rich sources of information on the search behavior of 400,00 involuntarily unemployed workers in France.

First, she uses a mandatory survey to measure their selectivity in wage and non-wage amenities. Second, she tracks the job applications sent on a popular online platform, to measure their search intensity and analyze the precise timing of their search activities.

She documents that mothers are more selective than observationally similar women with no children for all non-wage amenities, but equally selective in terms of wages. She also documents that mothers send 9% fewer job applications.

She then analyzes the timing of search activities at a high-frequency and shows that motherhood generates a drop in job applications systematically in the hours of the day when children are not at school. In addition, she analyzes a reform which introduced school time on Wednesday in France in 2013-14 (instead of having Wednesdays off) and shows that the reform increased the number of applications sent by mothers, especially on Wednesdays. Overall, this evidence suggests that motherhood  increases the opportunity cost of market work, and also the opportunity cost of job search.