Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools


You are here: Home / Research / Selected Research / Penalties for Paid and Unpaid Care Work

Penalties for Paid and Unpaid Care Work

Faculty Associate Joan Kahn studies children's health under grant from the Russell Sage Foundation

Through grant from Russell Sage Foundation. Dr. Kahn, Sociology, investigates care work, which provides important public goods in rearing children, creating skills and health in children, and extending the capabilities of adults. Women do much of the nation’s care work. These forces differentially affect women of different wage and skill levels, creating distinct policy dilemmas. Assessing the penalties for care work – paid and unpaid – and determining when they are most severe is a necessary first step in designing effective public policy. The project seeks to estimate the economic effects on individuals of doing care work – working in care-giving occupations and doing the unpaid care work of motherhood. Two datasets, the NLSY and the NLS-YW are used for analysis: each follows a cohort for 30+ years from youth to late forties and fifties. Novel features of this research are that both paid and unpaid care work are considered, and long-term career trajectories are assessed focusing on how penalties for either paid or unpaid care work differ by skill and wage levels of individuals. The main research questions are; How much do occupations involving face-to-face care work pay, relative to other work requiring about the same education? If care work pays less, what factors explain why it pays less? How does the unpaid care that women do as mothers affect women’s wages and occupational attainment? Do penalties differ by skill and wage levels?

See Joan Kahn's profile