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The existence of large child penalties on women"s labor market outcomes has been documented for multiple countries and time periods. In this paper, we assess the extent to which marriage decisions and pregnancies may partly explain these child penalties. Using data from 29 countries drawn from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), we show that although marriage has a negative effect on women"s employment (3.3%), its magnitude is much smaller than that of the negative effect of a first child (23%). Moreover, we find that pregnancies that end in non-live births have non-statistically significant effects on employment in the following years, supporting the exogeneity assumption underlying the identification in child penalty studies. These new results lend support to the hypothesis that child-rearing, rather than marriage or pregnancy, is responsible for women exiting the labor force upon motherhood.
pregnancy; non-live births; marriage; child penalty; motherhood; share data