Evaluation of the Gender Pay Gap: The Value of Parental Leave

Student Author(s)

Ryan Campbell

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sarah Estelle

Document Type


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On April 8th, 2014, President Obama signed two executive orders aimed at closing the wage gap between men and women. These acts emphasize the national dialogue, mostly heated, over the topic of equal pay across genders. This paper aims to shed light on the wage gap the president is referring to in the aforementioned quote. Using data from the 13th year of the 1997 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the difference in coefficients will be studied. By using an empirical method aimed at addressing the issue of bias in maternity/paternity leave provision, the effect that receiving parental leave benefits has on monetary wages will be examined. What will be shown is that the pay gap in pure averages can be pared down piece by piece when factors such as education, industry choice, age, and benefits are controlled for; revealing that the gap in compensation, relative to mediating factors, is indeed smaller than the 22-25 cent over dollar figure that is touted most frequently. The question being: What effect does paid parental leave have on wages, and how does the gender skewed provision of this benefit affect the gender wage gap?

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