New mothers earn £70,000 less over a decade, think tank finds

Research reveals women with children could see their earnings fall by 10 per cent in 10 years, as experts call for ‘national solution’ to high cost of childcare

FG Trade/Getty Images

New mothers can expect to miss out on almost £70,000 of earnings over a decade, a think tank has found.

The study, conducted by the Social Market Foundation (SMF), found that the cumulative loss of income for a woman who had their first child in 2010/11 was typically £66,434 over the following nine years, compared to what they would have earned if they had remained childless.

The research – part of a wider study involving around 30,000 people – found that a typical woman without a child could expect to see their earnings increase by a third over the course of a decade.


More than half of single mothers left out of workplace pensions schemes, analysis reveals

Single parents twice as likely to be unemployed than coupled parents, research finds

Promoting shared parental leave


However, the women who had their first child in 2010/11 were earning about 10 per cent less after that time.

This issue was exacerbated by the cost of childcare, the study said, which often left women unable to work as much as they would want, reducing earnings and limiting career progression, the study said.

On average, families were spending 7 per cent of their income on childcare costs, the study said, with this proportion increasing among families on lower incomes.


Get more HR and employment law news like this delivered straight to your inbox every day – sign up to People Management’s PM Daily newsletter


John Penrose, Conservative MP for Weston-Super-Mare, said childcare costs were “cripplingly high” and that the UK could not afford to put off reform any longer.

“Affordable childcare is essential for any parent who doesn’t want to put their career on hold,” he said. “Without it, parents get trapped under a glass ceiling where they can’t work a few extra hours to improve their pay, apply for a promotion, or switch to a job with different hours.”

Alongside the figures, the SMF announced the launch of a cross-party commission, led by Penrose and Siobhain McDonagh, Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, into the impact the poor provisions of childcare was having on wages and poverty.

Scott Corfe, research director at the SMF, said the cost of childcare was a “national problem that needs a national solution”.

“No government can claim to have solved the cost-of-living crisis, nor to be doing the most to achieve gender equality, if the costs of childcare remain unaddressed,” he said.