Monday, December 12, 2005

Ready to have a baby? Stop reading stupid magazine articles.

Someone on a board I read posted this link today. Here's part of the beginning:

"Women agonize over the trade-offs between family and career. Now, thanks to Amalia Miller, a young economist at the University of Virginia, there is a new and particularly vivid way to think about those trade-offs.

On average, Miller has found in a new paper, a woman in her 20s will increase her lifetime earnings by 10 percent if she delays the birth of her first child by a year. Part of that is because she'll earn higher wages—about 3 percent higher—for the rest of her life; the rest is because she'll work longer hours. For college-educated women, the effects are even bigger. For professional women, the effects are bigger yet—for these women, the wage hike is not 3 percent, but 4.7 percent.

So, if you have your first child at 24 instead of 25, you're giving up 10 percent of your lifetime earnings. The wage hit comes in two pieces. There's an immediate drop, followed by a slower rate of growth—right up to the day you retire. So, a 34-year-old woman with a 10-year-old child will (again on average) get smaller percentage raises on a smaller base salary than an otherwise identical woman with a 9-year-old. Each year of delayed childbirth compounds these benefits, at least for women in their 20s. Once you're in your 30s, there's far less reward for continued delay. Surprisingly, it appears that none of these effects are mitigated by the passage of family-leave laws."

Maybe I'm overly sensitive, but that strikes me as supremely annoying. As someone who'll be having her first child about a year later than she wanted to - hey, maybe I should be glad my son died! It saved me a lot of money, eh?

I felt like that was an irrational reaction, but then I got to this tidbit:

"So, professor Miller did something very clever. Instead of comparing random 24-year-old mothers with random 25-year-old mothers, she compared 24-year-old mothers with 25-year-old mothers who had miscarried at 24. So, she had two groups of women, all of whom made the same choices regarding pregnancy, but some of whom had their first children delayed by an act of chance. That's a fairer comparison—and it confirmed the 10 percent earnings hit."

Gee, maybe I'll try that the next time someone I know has a miscarriage. "Think of the bright side - you'll increase your lifetime earnings by 10%!"

Meanwhile, I would venture to guess that any woman who's lost a pregnancy or a child would gladly take a 100% pay cut to have that child back. I know I would.


At Monday, December 12, 2005 4:33:00 PM, Blogger Mrs.X said...

I think suggesting that losing a baby just saved someone money would get you nothing more than a punch in the nose. And I know you'd never do that but I could just see someone reading that article the balls to do it. Ugh. People need to think before they write these things.

At Monday, December 12, 2005 4:46:00 PM, Blogger Lorem ipsum said...

Maybe miscarriages and high wages have a common cause—a propensity for risk-taking, for example. Miller noted that it appears that most miscarriages are not caused by risky behavior.

So why mention it? Who came up with the first sentence's idea? Do you think by writing this paper she put off having a baby for a year and so is banking on an extra 10% for her efforts?

Hah! Yeah, I had a miscarriage in February, got pregnant again, told work this time, got laid off, had another miscarriage and now I just got hired on with a new job for 20% more. And it's soooooo worth it for the extra cash.


At Tuesday, December 13, 2005 3:24:00 PM, Blogger Julian's Mom said...

I can't believe someone even thought to engage in this ridiculous comparison. Well, yes I can, and I'm sure there was a man behind it. So disgusting to even suggest what they are suggesting...


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