University of Wisconsin–Madison

Works in Progress

Under Review

Doren, Catherine and Katherine Y. Lin. “Diverging Trajectories or Parallel Pathways? A Life Course Approach to the Gender Earnings Gap by Race and Education.”

Despite increases in gender equality in the family and the workplace in the United States, an earnings gap persists. Yet gender inequality is far more complex than a single point-in-time estimate of the earnings gap; there are important differences by age, education, and race. Guided by a life course perspective, we advance scholarship on gender inequality in the labor market by exploring how the trajectory of gender inequality varies across race and education groups. By integrating ideas about intersectional characteristics with life course theories, we uncover whether multiple inequalities are exacerbated, or undone, over the life course. We use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 cohort to estimate growth curve models of annual earnings, paying attention to differences by race and educational attainment in the levels and slopes of men and women’s earnings from ages 22 to 47. Our findings indicate that racially- and educationally-advantaged groups see the greatest gender earnings divergence across life, supporting theories of cumulative advantage and glass ceilings. These findings lay a foundation for future research on the multiple mechanisms underpinning persistent gender inequality.


Doren, Catherine. “Is Two Too Many? Parity and Mothers’ Labor Force Exit.” To be presented at ASA 2018.

Many mothers leave the labor force during their childbearing years. Conventional wisdom and qualitative research suggest there may be a tipping point at the second child when women are particularly likely to leave. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, I find no evidence for a tipping point around the birth of second children. Women are instead most likely to leave the labor force when they are pregnant with their first child. Each subsequent child is associated with a smaller increase in the probability of exit. In addition, women who only ever have one child are less likely to leave the labor force than those who have more children. College-educated women who only have one child are especially unlikely to exit. I conclude with a discussion of why the tipping point hypothesis is so prevalent despite strong evidence against it.


In Preparation

Doren, Catherine. “Do Some Mothers Pay a Higher Price? Variation in Motherhood Wage Penalties by Education, Parity, and Fertility Timing.” To be presented at PAA and WFRN 2018.

Conwell, Jordan A. and Catherine Doren. “Racial Differences in Family Formation Within Maternal Education Groups and Their Implications for Children’s School Readiness”

Grodsky, Eric, Catherine Doren, Chandra Muller, and John Robert Warren. “Coming in to Focus: Education and Stratification at Midlife.”