Making Sense of 77 Cents
I skipped Blog for Fair Pay Day, partly because I was studying, and partly because it was an American legislative campaign that I don’t feel much connection to. Nonetheless, I have wage gaps on the brain, and I’m still poking through the material released for that initiative.
The central statistic – that American women make 77 cents on the dollar – is almost meaningless. I want to know the breakdown – what proportion of that gap is straightforward discrimination, women simply being paid less than men for equal work? Thomas Sowell says that gap is “trivial.”
Here are some alternative points, from the National Women’s Law Centre:
A 2003 study by U.S. Government Accountability Office (then the General Accounting Office) found that, even when all the key factors that influence earnings are controlled for — demographic factors such as marital status, race, number and age of children, and income, as well as work patterns such as years of work, hours worked, and job tenure — women still earned, on average, only 80% of what men earned in 2000. That is, there remains a 20% pay gap between women and men that cannot be explained or justified.
One extensive study that examined occupational segregation and the pay gap between women and men found that, after controlling for occupational segregation by industry, occupation, place of work, and the jobs held within that place of work (as well as for education, age, and other demographic characteristics), about one-half of the wage gap is due solely to the individual’s sex.
Read the full fact sheet with references here.
I don’t want this site to be, as someone imagined, “all income inequality all the time,” but I have lots more to say right now. Stay tuned.