Birth Spacing and Working Mothers' Within-Organization Career Paths. By: Carlson, Lisa; Guzzo, Karen Benjamin and Wu, Hsueh-Sheng. 2024. Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World. p1-14.

The mechanisms behind mothers’ wage penalties remain unclear. In this article, the authors consider the role of birth spacing and changes in employers after a second birth. Using the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and competing risk event history models, the authors investigate how spacing between first and second births influences the likelihood of returning to a pre–second birth employer, changing employers, or remaining outside of the labor force within six months of the second birth. The authors find no differences in the influence of birth spacing on the likelihood of returning to an employer versus changing employers but that shorter birth spacings relate to lower likelihoods of returning to the labor market. There is some evidence that birth spacing and postbirth employment varies by age at first birth, marital status, and occupation. Overall, the results suggest that although birth spacing is relevant for returning postbirth to employment, job changes are unlikely to drive mothers’ wage penalties.