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Quick guide to the Economics of Motherhood

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Enroll for Economics 101

Economics was not the easiest subject in school for me. There were many concepts and theories that took time for me to comprehend. As I’ve grown and made difficult decisions, ironically the economic theory of opportunity cost has been at the forefront of my mind. My economic professors would be so pleased. When I was faced with the decision to continue working or stay home with my baby girl, I applied this theory to help me decide the best decision for our family.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines opportunity cost as: “The added cost of using resources (as for production or speculative investment) that is the difference between the actual value resulting from such use and that of an alternative (as another use of the same resources or an investment of equal risk but greater return).”

In simpler terms, opportunity cost is the cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action. As we make choices, we have to sacrifice one thing for another. Our abilities and resources are finite; unavoidably we can’t do it all.


The Economics of Motherhood 101

As children enter into the picture, women are usually faced with the decision of working inside or outside the home, working at all and if motherhood count as a working. In the decision making process, it can be valuable to see what we are giving up once a decision is made.

So here my list for both side of the costs of the Economics of Motherhood!

iVoryTowerz motherhood
Photo credit: Flickr/ iVoryTowerz


Possible opportunity costs from leaving workforce to pursue full-time motherhood:

  • Loss of potential earnings, lack of contributions to retirement and accumulating social security benefits
  • Lost opportunities for advancement
  • Disadvantaged when reentering the workforce: ex. wage penalty, seniority
  • May fall behind on technological advances
  • The feeling of ‘missing out’
  • Loss of self-esteem

Possible opportunity costs from staying in the workforce after becoming a mother

  • Childcare expenses
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Missed time with children in early bonding years
  • Possibly more stress on family life: ex. splitting household responsibilities, quality time with spouse


Of course, everyone’s situation will be different. We will need to evaluate what will be best decision for us as an individual and our family. Unavoidably we can’t do it all, we have to determine what we are willing to sacrifice. But the decision over the Economics of Motherhood is ours and only we can know what to sacrifice for another.


Photo credit: Flickr/ fourplusanangel

Betsy Allred Toyn
Betsy currently resides in Utah, USA, where she was born and raised. After the birth of her little girl, Betsy decided to leave the workforce and become a full-time mom. She is currently busy helping her two little girls discover the beauty, creativity and love in the world. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” -Eleanor Roosevelt, is a philosophy that she hopes to instill in her children. Betsy believes in stepping outside of your comfort zone and realizing your full potential.

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