Mother’s Day is approaching, which means you’re going to start hearing about a certain survey in noth the traditional and the “alternative” media. The paycheck comparison website, Salary.com, creates a questionnaire each year to determine the value of the work a mother does for her family. By determining the ten most popular “jobs” a mom does — chief executive officer, van driver, janitor, etc. — and weighing each job’s media corporate salary against the percentage of time spent doing that job, Salary.com determined that if a stay-at-home mom was paid a fair salary in 2006, it wold be $134,121.
This year, moms received a raise and the figure is now calculated at $138,095.
I pointed out this rebuttal last year, but it’s worth repeating. Carl Bialik from the Wall Street Journal thinks it’s ridiculous.
Claudia Goldin, a professor of economics at Harvard, dismissed the survey as “silly.” “The calculation isn’t for what anyone would pay an individual,” Prof. Goldin said. “Nor is it for exactly what the individual does. It is for what the person claims they are doing during a long day — CEO, psychologist, etc. And what exactly is the salary for the CEO of a business that shows no profits and sells no services or goods? I think it is probably zero…”
There are other problems with the estimate. A big one is that mothers aren’t trained as professionals for some of the jobs, like computer operator and cook, so their work in those areas may be overvalued at the typical hourly salary.
If you want to check out how much your mom is “worth,” visit the Mom Salary Wizard. This is the 2006 version. I guess the 2007 data has not been officially released yet, but you can estimate by adding 3% on to your result.
Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published May 3, 2007.