Women who have a brother are likely to earn less, US study shows

The study found that women with brothers tend to focus more on family and tend to prioritise being in a committed relationship over those who only have sister or have no siblings at all

Josie Cox
Business Editor
Thursday 21 September 2017 12:31 BST
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Women with brothers, the researchers say, tend to display a greater intention to have children
Women with brothers, the researchers say, tend to display a greater intention to have children (Rex Features)

Women with a brother are likely to have a lower income than those who don’t, according to a study compiled by researchers from Cornell University.

Using data collected in the US, Angela Cools and Eleonora Patacchini found that having a brother lowered earnings by approximately 10 per cent for a woman in her late 20s or early 30s. If no women had brothers, the overall gender pay gap would likely be around 5 per cent smaller, their research claims.

The gap can largely be attributed to the fact that – generally – women with brothers tend to focus more on family and tend to prioritise being in a committed relationship over those who only have sister or have no siblings at all. Those with brothers, the researchers say, also tend to display a greater intention to have children.

Ms Cools and Ms Patacchini also said that they had found no evidence that differences in parental investment, cognitive abilities, parental expectations, or personality traits drive the earnings power.

While the gender pay gap has been narrowing slowly across many parts of the developed world, progress in many countries, including the UK, has been glacial.

According to the Fawcett Society, a charity campaigning for gender equality, the current overall mean gap for full time workers in the UK is 13.9 per cent, meaning that – at the current rate of progress – it will take 62 years to close.

Much of the disparity in the UK comes down to differences in caring responsibilities, more women being in low-skilled and therefore low-paid work, as well as outright discrimination.

From April next year, companies across the UK employing more than 250 people will have to publish their gender pay gap figures on their websites.

They must provide the mean and median gender pay gap in hourly pay as well as the mean and median bonus gap, the proportion of males and females receiving a bonus and the proportion of males and females in each pay quartile.

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