Trends over time in his and her earnings following parenthood in Sweden

Abstract: This study brings a couple perspective to assess change and variation in gender equality over time in a setting with high maternal labor force participation, a long history of family policy investment, and strong norms of gender equality. Using fixed effects methods and Swedish register data covering the total population of couples becoming parents between 1987 and 2007, we investigate how trajectories of within-couple earnings inequality around the time of a first birth have changed over time and varied by couples’ relative educational levels. Our descriptive findings indicate that the immediate loss in women’s share of couples’ earnings after the first child has lessened over time, but this change virtually disappears in our fixed effect models. Among couples in which women have tertiary education, we find a small decrease in couples’ income inequality that holds with the introduction of fixed effects and time-varying controls. This appears to be driven by a decline in men’s labor income in the most recent cohorts, consistent with an increase in childcare among men. We find no corresponding increase in women’s labor income, however, which leads us to question the idea that men’s increased childcare necessarily facilitates an increase in women’s labor market investment.