Family Processes and Inequality - Trends in Couple Income Inequality at Transition to Parenthood in Sweden

Sunnee Billingsley , Stockholm University
Pilar Gonalons Pons, University of Pennsylvania
Ann-Zofie Duvander, Stockholm University

Family change is central to understanding recent patterns in household income inequality. While prior research has focused on changes in family structure and inequality, recent work emphasizes that shifts in the economic organization of families over the life course plays an important role too. Extending this line of work, we study how changes in the effects of parenthood on women’s and men’s earnings are contributing to increasing couples’ economic similarity and to household income inequality. Using Swedish register data from 1986 to 2012, we analyze all couples who had a first child between the years 1978 to 2012, observing this population up to eight years after the entrance to parenthood. Preliminary results reveal a small increase overall in income equality between partners over this time period in Sweden. Underlying this small increase are two opposite trends: deepening inequality between partners after couples enter parenthood, but a greater rebound in equality as careers progress.

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 Presented in Session 36. Economics, Human Capital and Labor Markets