Paradox or Mitigation? Childless and Parent Gender Gaps across British, Finnish and German Wage Distributions

Lynn Prince Cooke, Anna Hagglund, Rossella Icardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (SciVal)


Part of the welfare paradox is that generous family policies increase private sector employer discrimination particularly against higher-wage women. We argue instead that bundles of generous policies mitigate gender productivity differences among parents, and in turn the discrimination also affecting childless women. We test these assertions by estimating the two gaps across the British, Finnish, and German private sector wage distributions using 2000-2018 panel data and unconditional quantile regression. Parenthood gaps because of smaller motherhood penalties below the median are smallest in Finland and Germany. In contrast, fatherhood premiums constitute most of the parenthood gap for high-wage German and UK women, whereas high-wage UK women are disadvantaged by motherhood penalties and fatherhood premiums. The childless gap is also smaller across the bottom of the Finnish and German wage distributions. In all, our advanced modeling strategy finds strong support for the mitigating effects of generous family policies on gender wage gaps.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberjxac016
Pages (from-to)955-979
Number of pages24
JournalSocial Politics
Issue number3
Early online date9 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

The research was made possible with funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement number 680958, L. P. Cooke, PI). Opinions expressed here reflect only the authors’ views; the Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.


  • Comparative analysis
  • Discrimination
  • Gender Gap
  • wages
  • Quantile regression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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