They may be number one in their kids’ hearts, but a recent study suggests when men become fathers, they can earn a raise without having to be the top performer in the office.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia analyzed data from Statistic Canada’s latest workplace and employee survey and found that white men often receive a wage boost when they become fathers.
“Although women typically experience a dip in earnings after becoming mothers, our study confirms the prevalence of the so-called ‘daddy bonus’— the wage boost that men enjoy when they become fathers,” lead researcher Sylvia Fuller said.
Employers are more likely to see fathers deserving of promotions and higher wages because of an unfair assumption that men are the breadwinners in their families, the study said, and therefore more likely to be hardworking and dependable.
“Of course, that assumption isn’t always true,” Fuller said.
Researchers focused on wage differences within workplaces as well, but had to limit their study to specifically white men because of wage gaps that exist among racial groups.
The numbers suggest new fathers in professional or managerial roles enjoy the largest net wage boost within their workplace – about seven per cent – compared to a 3.6-per-cent wage boost offered to men in other occupations.
There was also a noticeable difference between “highly educated men” and those with less than a high school diploma. Men with university degrees often received a 5.3-per-cent net wage premium, compared to a 1.8-per-cent boost for other fathers.
In cases where jobs involved a collective bargaining agreement, or in companies with a human resources department, the fatherhood wage premium was significantly lower.
And in cases where work performance was more closely scrutinized for merit pay, researchers found that the fatherhood wage boost was reduced or even reversed.
“The overall story seems to be that, when there’s more scrutiny and oversight of actual performance, the fatherhood advantage diminishes,” Fuller said. “This suggests that it’s not so much that dads are necessarily working harder, but that employers think they are.”
Fuller said the findings should be cause for concern, especially for employers.
“It is discrimination on the basis of family status,” she said. “Not everybody can or wants to have kids, but that shouldn’t affect wages. It is fundamentally unfair.”