Economic Woman

Econometrics, gender, equity and more.

Making Sense of 77 Cents

with 4 comments

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.


Written by Allison

30 April 2008 at 1:22 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

4 Responses

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  1. Some say it happens at the negotiation stage. Men are more likely to ask for raises or higher salaries when hired or changing jobs. This trait is attributed mostly to gender and could drive the results. No survey ever asked “Did you negotiate higher pay or ask for a raise?” or “How much more money would you demand from your new job before you would leave the old one?” and see if there is a gender gap.


    15 May 2008 at 3:30 pm

  2. […] negotiation gap Posted on 16 May 2008 by Allison Commenting on this post, “v” has made a good point about one source of the gender wage gap: Some say it happens […]

  3. That’s no fact sheet. You’ve been had.
    The wage gap is a lie – women DO earn equal pay for equal work. The wage gap is trivial.
    Ladies – if you want to earn like a man, you have to work like a man. That means becoming working longer hours, harder jobs, and becoming the prime bread-winner for the family while your partner stays home.
    You up for that?


    6 December 2009 at 12:20 pm

  4. […] I’ve said before, I don’t much like straight earnings ratios, and I wish they weren’t thrown around […]

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