If Parents Could Demand a Salary, They'd Do Pretty Well

Raising a child is perhaps the most high-profile uncompensated act for people who become parents. Among women, the job is so thoroughly a job that childrearing is known as "the second shift." If parents were fairly compensated for their labor, they'd be doing quite well for themselves.

In May 2018, Salary.com released its annual salary of a mother, calculated from the many hybrid roles parents play for their families for an average of 96 hours each week. These skilled jobs include dietitian, plumber, event planner, athletic director, staff nurse and, of course, CEO. Accordingly, the average mother should be earning $162,581 in annual salary for parenting duties alone.

Perhaps if parenting paid well enough, it could counteract (or fix) some of the pressures facing most families, from poor parental leave policies and outrageous childcare costs to supporting consistent work schedules, workplace rights around breastfeeding, and the general stressors that face mothers in particular all across the country. Meanwhile, new fathers often reap social and financial rewards for their status as parents, largely on the impression that fatherhood confers qualities that are good for business.

One other salient factor of Salary.com's estimate is the huge leap in "pay" for mothers year over year. In 2016, the number came out to $143,102 annually, and in 2017, mothers "earned" $157,705 — to reiterate, that's a nearly $20,000 leap in two years. Such a salary would do wonders for the wage gap. This data is a promotion for a Salary.com product, but it asks some worthy questions about labor and compensation nonetheless.