How Much Does Social Security Offset the Motherhood Penalty?

IB#21-11

The brief’s key findings are:

  • When women become mothers, their earnings often take a substantial, and permanent, hit that becomes larger with each additional child.
  • The question is, how do Social Security provisions address this motherhood penalty once women enter retirement?
  • The results show that Social Security offsets a substantial portion of the motherhood penalty, both for mothers in general and for each additional child.
  • Despite Social Security’s equalizing role, a motherhood penalty will remain in retirement without policy intervention, such as earnings credits for caregivers.

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