Maybe a gender pay gap is OK

Reuters

Article Highlights

  • More and more people are pointing out how misleading the 77 cent figure is. #EqualPay #GenderWageGapMyth

    Tweet This

  • Correct for such factors as choice of occupation and hours worked, and the gap shrinks substantially.

    Tweet This

  • A '09 report for the Labor Depart estimated the unexplained gap between male and female pay at 5% to 7%, not 23%.

    Tweet This

More than 11,000 people retweeted this comment from Hillary Clinton the other day: "20 years ago, women made 72 cents on the dollar to men. Today it's still just 77 cents. More work to do. ‪#EqualPay ‪#NoCeilings."

More and more people are pointing out how misleading the 77 cent figure is. Although it's used to justify cracking down on employers, nobody who has studied the issue believes that employer discrimination explains all or even most of the gap between male and female wages.

Correct for such factors as choice of occupation and hours worked, and the gap shrinks substantially. A 2009 report for the Labor Department estimated the unexplained gap between male and female pay at 5 percent to 7 percent, not 23 percent.

We could respond to those facts by widening our focus beyond employers. The 77 cent figure, we could say, is a big problem even if it doesn't result from workplace discrimination. Getting to 100 cents on the dollar, we might continue, will also require changing people's views so that more women go into male-dominated, well-paying occupations, or so that men and women split child-care duties equally.

That line of thinking makes more sense than trying to dream up new ways to sue companies. We -- I'm speaking of our society here, not necessarily our government -- probably should make further strides in this direction.

But there's no reason to expect or desire the sexes to ever have exactly the same preferences about the balance between work and family life, or about occupational choices. At some point well short of 100 percent, contrary to Clinton's implication, we'd have to conclude that we have no more work to do.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Ramesh
Ponnuru

What's new on AEI

Study: Piketty tax plan would boost equality by making rich less rich. But poor would be poorer, too
image Rep. McCaul’s cybersecurity information sharing center: If you build it, will they come?
image Halbig and its aftermath
image Culture of how Washington pays for medical care
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 28
    MON
  • 29
    TUE
  • 30
    WED
  • 31
    THU
  • 01
    FRI
Tuesday, July 29, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Is Medicare's future secure? The 2014 Trustees Report

Please join AEI as the chief actuary for Medicare summarizes the report’s results, followed by a panel discussion of what those spending trends are likely to mean for seniors, taxpayers, the health industry, and federal policy.

Event Registration is Closed
Friday, August 01, 2014 | 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Watergate revisited: The reforms and the reality, 40 years later

Please join us as four of Washington’s most distinguished political observers will revisit the Watergate hearings and discuss reforms that followed.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.