Stefano Cantalini

Education, Timing of Parenthood and Careers among Men and Women in Italy

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Parenthood is a key life course transition that influences individual careers and shapes gender inequalities, but few studies have analysed if and how it has different consequences among different groups in society. Our paper aims at investigating differences by education in the short- and long-term effects of (timing of) parenthood on occupational careers in Italy. Using data from the Multipurpose Survey - Family and Social Actors (2009) and fixed effects panel models, we show that motherhood career penalties are much larger and persistent for low-educated women. Parenthood does not significantly affect male careers, despite a small fatherhood premium appearing later in the career for tertiary-educated men. Finally, timing of parenthood is crucial only among high-educated individuals, especially women, who do not experience motherhood penalties in the short- and medium-run if they postpone first birth at later stages of the career. However, tertiary-educated mothers catch-up with childless women in the long-run either if they become mothers early or late in their careers. Low-educated mothers are penalised independently from when they have the first child. These findings show that parenthood and its timing contribute to increase gender and social inequalities in Italy over the life course.


  • Parenthood
  • Timing of Parenthood
  • Education
  • Careers
  • Motherhood Penalties


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