Parenthood and Academic Career Trajectories

Anne Sophie Lassen, Ria Ivandic

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Women continue to be underrepresented in the field of economics, particularly among permanent faculty. This paper asks how fertility impacts women's academic careers in economics by estimating child penalties for women and men economists' likelihood of staying in academia, receiving promotions, and publishing research papers. Our analysis relies on administrative data from Denmark covering individuals enrolling in Ph.D. programs in economics, allowing us to overcome survivorship bias. We link data on labor market outcomes, such as whether individuals work in academia, with information on fertility, and high-quality publication data. By studying the population entering Ph.D. programs, we focus on the early pipeline into the profession.
Our research provides three insights. First, we document that most of both men and women have children, and we find no evidence that those who remain in academia delay or reduce their fertility compared to those who leave. The arrival of children does not influence graduation rates, and parents are equally likely to publish as non-parents. Second, we show that the mothers publishing before parenthood are positively selected on prior academic performance compared to fathers and compared to other women. Third, our event study estimates show that parenthood persistently reduces women’s likelihood of staying in academia by 10 percentage points relative to men. While both new mothers and fathers leave universities, new mothers are more likely to leave the broader research sector. Among those who stay in academia, women are less likely to obtain tenured positions during the three years following parenthood. The gender gap in the number of publications is insignificant across specifications, and controlling for publications does not influence the gender gap in promotions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2024
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2024
EventASSA 2024 Annual Meeting - San Antonio, United States
Duration: 5 Jan 20247 Jan 2024


ConferenceASSA 2024 Annual Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Antonio
Internet address

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