Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Women’s Wages and the ’77 Cents’ Myth — Again and Again and Again

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 12.27.26 PM

Eventually, liberals/progressives/Democrats might stop using the “women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes” factoid. This is a two “Pinocchio” claim, according to the Washington Post, by the way. I also recommend this critical note from my AEI colleagues Andrew Bigg and Mark Perry, which concludes, “Once education, marital status and occupations are considered, the ‘gender wage gap’ all but disappears.” And now we have this new study from the New York Fed, which also finds a relatively tiny gap:

Among recent college graduates as a whole, women earn about 97 cents on the dollar compared with men. That said, within this group, women tend to out-earn men in a number of college majors, sometimes by a substantial margin. We find these early career patterns fascinating, in part because they seem to present counter examples to the well-established male wage premium, but mostly because it is not entirely clear why we observe these patterns. To the extent that a wage premium for one gender represents discrimination, it may be that discrimination can occur in favor of either men or women, depending on college major, at least among recent college graduates. By mid-career, however, any wage premium earned by women completely disappears. As we grapple with the issue of gender pay equity, it is vital that we continue to examine these trends in more detail so that we can better understand their sources.

And why does that small gap apparently grow to 15 points by mid-career, in favor of men? Again, from the study:

There are a number of possible explanations as to why the gender pay gap is fairly small for recent college graduates, but grows for mid-career workers. First, to the extent that male earnings premiums represent discrimination against women, it is possible that such discrimination becomes more widespread as men and women approach mid-career. Another possibility is that pay differences arise for reasons related to raising a family. When we look at the outcomes of young college graduates, this group primarily contains single people without children, while the mid-career group includes a significant number of men and women with children. Women are more likely than men to spend time out of the labor force to bear and raise children. This interruption in a working career reduces the accumulation of work experience and human capital, which has been shown to have a negative influence on earnings. In addition, some jobs tend to reward long hours and fixed schedules—think surgeons or lawyers. Because raising a family often requires more flexible schedules, those with family responsibilities who have difficulty satisfying time sensitive work demands may face lower wages in these types of jobs. In fact, in jobs where such time demands are largely absent, and more flexibility is possible, the pay gap has been found to be much smaller.

There are 20 comments.

  1. Austin Murrey Inactive

    Sometimes I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. There has to be an end to this nonsense one day, right?

    • #1
    • August 17, 2015, at 1:22 PM PDT
    • Like
  2. Johnny Dubya Inactive

    There are all kinds of “gaps” in the working world, and most of them have to do with choices. (Some of them have to do with God-given characteristics and abilities; I was never going to be an NBA player, because I’m too short and have a minor heart defect.)

    We might find, for example, that Indian-Americans tend to earn more in IT professions; that Mexican-Americans tend to be over-represented in construction jobs; and that Filipina women tend to be nurses rather than physicians. The first group tends toward high achievement in technology education; the second group tends toward physical jobs where English-speaking and even legal immigration status is less of a hurdle; and the third group tends toward this nurturing profession because it is familiar and popular among their family members and community.

    Actually, it would be fairly amazing if you were to pick any two groups and found no disparity whatsoever.

    That men and women tend toward different professions in different numbers with differing education requirements, different career paths, and different dedication to family considerations over career considerations – with the result being different average compensation levels – should be utterly unremarkable.

    Consider the counterproductive nature of the purported “sexism” that is allegedly responsible for the “wage gap”: Employers would have to find more value in “keeping women down” than in employing and fairly compensating good-quality employees. It wouldn’t be explainable unless the employer were sociopathically sexist to the detriment of his business.

    • #2
    • August 17, 2015, at 1:33 PM PDT
    • Like
  3. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    James,

    I’m shocked yes shocked!! Surely you aren’t suggesting that women are choosing of their own free will not to continue on with the rat race of work and actually prefer to be mothers of children??!!

    There must be another explanation. Something to do with the Bush administration perhaps. That one always works.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #3
    • August 17, 2015, at 1:47 PM PDT
    • Like
  4. namlliT noD Member
    namlliT noD Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Here’s a better response…

    Forget pay, let’s talk fatal workplace injuries. 92% of all fatal workplace injuries are men, while only 8% are women.

    Ref:

    http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfch0011.pdf

    This is an inequality of an order of magnitude. And this is real data, not bogus data from tweaked statistics. And we’re talking human lives here, not pocket change.

    I’d like to hear the plan to address this massive inequality.

    • #4
    • August 17, 2015, at 1:53 PM PDT
    • Like
  5. GrannyDude Member

    Don Tillman:Here’s a better response…

    Forget pay, let’s talk fatal workplace injuries. 92% of all fatal workplace injuries are men, while only 8% are women.

    Ref:

    http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfch0011.pdf

    This is an inequality of an order of magnitude. And this is real data, not bogus data from tweaked statistics. And we’re talking human lives here, not pocket change.

    I’d like to hear the plan to address this massive inequality.

    I put this in my new book! Because yes, men are over-represented in all the most dangerous jobs, many of which are not particularly well-remunerated.

    A pediatrician friend of mine told me about an interesting conversation she had with her husband, also a doctor. She had been thinking, for awhile, that she’d really like to cut way back on work, spend more time at home with the kids, go back to school, maybe to seminary even. Her husband asked: “am I allowed to do that?”

    She realized that she had taken it for granted that she, not he, had the “right” to follow her bliss, while he had the obligation to support the family.

    • #5
    • August 17, 2015, at 2:35 PM PDT
    • Like
  6. Dan Hanson Thatcher
    Dan Hanson Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Let’s start a hashtag campaign! #MaleLivesMatter.

    Because everyone knows that the only way to affect real change in the world is with a good hashtag campaign. Failing that, perhaps we can come up with some kind of ribbon to wear, like something that represents a chainsaw kicking back into a man’s face because it hit a spike placed there by a sensitive lover of nature.

    Great point btw. And James’s article is spot-on.

    Also, men generally die years before women do. Isn’t that another form of inequality? As I get older, that inequality starts to look pretty important.

    • #6
    • August 17, 2015, at 2:37 PM PDT
    • Like
  7. Addiction Is A Choice Member

    If the “women only earn 77 cents on the dollar to men” trope were true, there would be no men in the workplace! Evil, greedy capitalists would hire nothing but women – and save 23 cents on every dollar.

    • #7
    • August 17, 2015, at 2:44 PM PDT
    • Like
  8. Tommy De Seno Contributor

    James Pethokoukis:

    And why does that small gap apparently grow to 15 points by mid-career, in favor of men? Again, from the study:

    May I interrupt here?

    James are you saying that by mid-career women do make 85 cents to the male dollar?

    I hadn’t heard that before.

    Where is that documented?

    And isn’t that still a fairly good talking point for the left?

    • #8
    • August 17, 2015, at 3:08 PM PDT
    • Like
  9. GrannyDude Member

    Dan Hanson:Let’s start a hashtag campaign! #MaleLivesMatter.

    Because everyone knows that the only way to affect real change in the world is with a good hashtag campaign. Failing that, perhaps we can come up with some kind of ribbon to wear, like something that represents a chainsaw kicking back into a man’s face because it hit a spike placed there by a sensitive lover of nature.

    Great point btw. And James’s article is spot-on.

    Also, men generally die years before women do. Isn’t that another form of inequality? As I get older, that inequality starts to look pretty important.

    I don’t know how to do hashtags, but I’ll wear the t-shirt.

    Incidentally, the number one characteristic likely to get you profiled, arrested or shot by the police is….tah-dah! Gender!

    Male Lives Matter! (Which, all jokes aside, they do).

    • #9
    • August 17, 2015, at 4:15 PM PDT
    • Like
  10. Henry Castaigne Member

    Kate, while I’m not familiar with your work, (besides that awesome speech you posted awhile back) I’m sure you know more left-liberals than I do. In your estimation, would left-liberals stop using that statistic if you explained how the results of that statistic represented people making free choices and not vulgar discrimination?

    • #10
    • August 18, 2015, at 12:55 AM PDT
    • Like
  11. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    So what “work” would Hillary do to fix this wage gap she speaks of?

    Nothing, really. But it’s a nice hashtag to throw out there. A small reminder to her loyal followers that she’s fightin’ for them.

    Laughable. I have good friends, educated, reasonable, that still repeat the 77 cents thing. I send them links to that explain why that’s inaccurate, and the information disappears into a black hole.

    Sometimes it’s easier to believe than understand.

    • #11
    • August 18, 2015, at 3:35 AM PDT
    • Like
  12. Austin Blair Inactive

    Addiction Is A Choice:If the “women only earn 77 cents on the dollar to men” trope were true, there would be no men in the workplace! Evil, greedy capitalists would hire nothing but women – and save 23 cents on every dollar.

    To me this is the comment of the thread – well said!

    If the business world was run by a bunch of greedy, money-grubbing, pinch every penny capitalists, Addiction is absolutely right. There would be far fewer men in the work force.

    • #12
    • August 18, 2015, at 4:46 AM PDT
    • Like
  13. Songwriter Member
    Songwriter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Addiction Is A Choice:If the “women only earn 77 cents on the dollar to men” trope were true, there would be no men in the workplace! Evil, greedy capitalists would hire nothing but women – and save 23 cents on every dollar.

    Brilliant!

    • #13
    • August 18, 2015, at 6:58 AM PDT
    • Like
  14. Kozak Member
    Kozak Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

    J. Goebbels

    Our opponents are huge fans.

    • #14
    • August 18, 2015, at 7:02 AM PDT
    • Like
  15. GrannyDude Member

    Henry Castaigne:Kate, while I’m not familiar with your work, (besides that awesome speech you posted awhile back) I’m sure you know more left-liberals than I do. In your estimation, would left-liberals stop using that statistic if you explained how the results of that statistic represented people making free choices and not vulgar discrimination?

    Holy cow, do I know a lot of left-liberals. That’s who I’m preaching to, bless them. And of course, I have to assume that minds can change, or there wouldn’t be much point in doing what I do. And listen: These are very nice, bright people—not the idiotic, drooling fascists of Ricochetti fantasy. On the other hand, they’re wrong about a lot of stuff. And are too often not interested in considering alternative viewpoints.

    Well, few are. Few of us make all of our decisions by carefully gathering and examining evidence, though most of us will do this in one area of life. Hence, the more you know about a subject (the War in Iraq, the relationship between law enforcement and young black men, the behavior of the German churches under Naziism) the more complicated it is. The less you know, the more absolutely confident you can be that you’ve got the answers. For Noam Chomsky, linguistics is complicated… but war and peace are simple.

    There are far too many decisions for individual fact-gathering and weighing to be efficient. We choose a tribe, or have it chosen for us by the accidents of family, region, social class and education. (Occasionally a Democrat is made via his/her membership in a group that Republicans have, for their own political purposes, disdained, and vice versa). We make decisions about things we don’t know much about based on the story our tribe tells. And certain “facts” (true or not) become markers of tribal identity. 77 cents is one of these.

    Along with: 1 in 3 women will experience severe domestic violence in her lifetime.

    and: 1 in 5 college women will be raped.

    What’s interesting about the “men are far more likely to be killed on the job” fact is that we all know it. None of my liberal friends claims that women are more likely to get squashed by felled trees, shot by fleeing felons, crushed by the compacter in the back of the garbage truck or drowned in vats of chemical waste… not to mention blown up by enemy artillery during a war…If they stop and think about it, they’ll realize that even in their own experience, men are far more likely to face (or seek) mortal danger than women…but this isn’t what liberals are encouraged to stop and think about. They dismiss “boys and their toys,” as if harvesting lumber, drilling for oil, responding to bank robberies and fighting fires or Nazis are just unnecessary macho games women are too wise and sensible to play.

    • #15
    • August 18, 2015, at 7:03 AM PDT
    • Like
  16. GrannyDude Member

    I had a good friend who, every year, sent out an announcement to a hundred or so female friends, inviting them to tea—not actually to her house, that is, but as a kind of “happening;” we were all to have our own little tea-party at a given time on a given day.

    “I believe that most of the world’s biggest problems have been solved by women sitting down together and drinking tea.”

    This was a huge hit. It was written up in the Boston Globe, and had this not been before the age of the Interweb, it would have gone viral.

    I loved my friend, but I didn’t do the tea party. As I saw it:

    1.) most of the world’s biggest problems have not been solved by anyone, over tea or anywhere else.

    2.) those problems that have been solved have mostly (not exclusively) been solved by men.

    This is such a sweet, middle-class, ladies’ delusion (though I’m sure my friends would be deeply offended to hear me say it!): What sort of person has time to sit down to tea with friends in the afternoon? Are such persons, whether male or female, likely to have acquired the expertise required to solve any problem more complicated than “what is the best way to get spit-up stains out of a baby’s t-shirt?”

    Even that, incidentally, was well-beyond my capabilities at the time…

    • #16
    • August 18, 2015, at 7:13 AM PDT
    • Like
  17. bridget Inactive

    One of the things that made me conservative was majoring in chemical engineering, studying at least 80 hours a week, and having people tell me that it wasn’t “fair” that I had such a nice internship and would be earning more than many of my fellow students. Well, I chose the brutal, no-fun major for exactly that reason.

    IMHO, if you want to reduce the “wage gap,” stop telling young women to “follow their dreams” or “do what they love”; tell them the cold, hard truth that a job is defined as something you do for money because no one would do it for free. If you’re snarky, greet every young liberal woman’s declaration of a women’s studies or sociology major with, “Contributing to the wage gap, are we?”

    Yes, there’s sexism, but sexism does not account for the “77 cents” disparity. For the most part, it’s choices. (And the ugly truth is that all those fun professional things women do – art, writing, etc. – are usually the province of women married to men with high-paying, stable jobs.)

    Sorry for the rant. But I figured this stuff out when I was 17 and am gobsmacked that it’s actually a debatable issue.

    • #17
    • August 18, 2015, at 7:35 AM PDT
    • Like
  18. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    bridget:One of the things that made me conservative was majoring in chemical engineering, studying at least 80 hours a week, and having people tell me that it wasn’t “fair” that I had such a nice internship and would be earning more than many of my fellow students. Well, I chose the brutal, no-fun major for exactly that reason.

    IMHO, if you want to reduce the “wage gap,” stop telling young women to “follow their dreams” or “do what they love”; tell them the cold, hard truth that a job is defined as something you do for money because no one would do it for free. If you’re snarky, greet every young liberal woman’s declaration of a women’s studies or sociology major with, “Contributing to the wage gap, are we?”

    Yes, there’s sexism, but sexism does not account for the “77 cents” disparity. For the most part, it’s choices. (And the ugly truth is that all those fun professional things women do – art, writing, etc. – are usually the province of women married to men with high-paying, stable jobs.)

    Sorry for the rant. But I figured this stuff out when I was 17 and am gobsmacked that it’s actually a debatable issue.

    Dear Bridget,

    I am an old guy now but when I was young I was a process control salesman. An instrument peddler. One of my first jobs was selling a nice refractometer to a ‘lady’ engineer. She had a lovely smile. However, I’m not sure she smiled at me because she thought I was cute but rather because I was the manufacturer’s rep for the world’s top process refractometer. The explosion proof housing wasn’t an option, if you bought it from us it came that way. It’s good to be the King.

    In any event, after I sold it to her I went on down the road. Instrument sales guys are just that way you know. She had plenty to do around the house as Dow Midland was ,and still is I think, one of the largest Chemical Refinery’s in the World. She was probably making twice what I was but hey I had the road.

    https://youtu.be/NvwojnLeMH4

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #18
    • August 18, 2015, at 8:26 AM PDT
    • Like
  19. Henry Castaigne Member

    Dear Kate,

    Please go have your tea-drinking friends convince the Chinese Communists not to harvest organs from religious minorities and ISIS to stop enslaving people. The Chinese would probably like black English tea because it would be exotic to them. ISIS would like English tea because it would remind them of their previous residencies.

    • #19
    • August 19, 2015, at 6:54 AM PDT
    • Like
  20. GrannyDude Member

    Henry Castaigne:Dear Kate,

    Please go have your tea-drinking friends convince the Chinese Communists not to harvest organs from religious minorities and ISIS to stop enslaving people. The Chinese would probably like black English tea because it would be exotic to them. ISIS would like English tea because it would remind them of their previous residencies.

    What a great idea! Let’s go drink tea with the ISIS people! They’ll be so impressed by our generous toleration of their differences that they’ll not only refrain from seizing our kidneys, they’ll foreswear all violence, peg their pant legs, don pork pie hats, and spend the rest of their days listening to Alternative Harmonica/Rap in Portlandia…

    • #20
    • August 20, 2015, at 7:13 PM PDT
    • Like