It is time for our annual discussion of why men earn more than women in the "Family Life" class. This year two enterprising students shared with the class two opposing current reports on this subject. I will blog one today and the other tomorrow.
Carrie Lukas, of the Independent Women's Forum, argues that there is no male-female wage gap. Sure, the median woman's wage is about three-quarters of the median man's wage, and has been for some time. However, when you make an apples-to-apples comparison, controlling for how much men and women work, their education, experience, job sector, industry, and firm, almost all of the pay gap disappears. In fact, for jobs that require more education in our knowledge-oriented economy, women start out doing better than men.
The core of the wage gap is that women are much more likely to choose to trade pay for family time. The gap begins in the prime childbirth and child-rearing years.
The second main cause of the wage gap, and one that egalitarian feminists and difference feminists most fight over, is that women are much less likely to take jobs that require the most time, intensive effort, and responsibility - which also tend to pay more. This gap continues after the kids are grown.
Men trade success for more money and power. Women trade success for more time and to focus on just the kind of work they like. These choices tend to improve women's lives. All it costs them is money.