Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Wage Gap is Due to Life Choices - The Attempted Rebuttal

Yesterday I argued that the wage gap between men and women is mostly due to the different life choices that men and women, as a group, tend to make. The American Association of University Women regularly argues that the wage gap is due to discrimination and a "glass ceiling." Their most recent report is here.

The AAUW report begins with the familiar claim that women earn 77 cents to a man's dollar - a 23% wage gap. Later in the report, though, they admit that

After accounting for college major, occupation, industry, sector, hours worked, workplace flexibility, experience, educational attainment, enrollment status, GPA, institution selectivity, age, race/ethnicity, region, marital status, and number of children, a 5 percent difference in the earnings of male and female college graduates one year after graduation was still unexplained.
Many factors could go into this 5 percent gap, including discrimination. However, other research has found that woman are more reluctant to negotiate their wages, and men are more likely to ask for more than they were offered.

The AAUW report goes on to cite another study that shows the wage gap growing for college-educated women and men in the decade after college. They write

A similar analysis of full-time workers 10 years after college graduation found a 12 percent unexplained difference in earnings.
However, that "similar analysis" leaves out the crucial difference between men and women in their 20s - women are likely to leave or cut back on work when they have children, while men are likely to work more when they have children.

As Susan Pinker argued in The Sexual Paradox, the more choice women have, the more they differ from men. American college-educated women in the 21st century are among the freest to choose of any group of women in the history of the world.


Whit said...

"The more choice women have, the more they differ from men."


Peter Hoh said...

There probably aren't enough guys like me for researchers to follow, but I suspect that they'd find a significant wage gap for men who dropped out of their careers to raise kids compared with men who didn't.

Alex said...

Is there any research on particular disciplines or careers where there is a true wage gap between men and women, even correcting for years of experience, etc.? As a Presbyterian pastor, it anecdotally seems to be the case...

Gruntled said...

Peter, I think we can say without further research that you must be right. However, men like you get what many women get, and most women want - a more balanced life. This is worth money, even if we cannot specify exactly how much.

Alex, some work settings do actually discriminate more than others - the Lilly Ledbetter Act was necessary in her case. I would be interested to know if you have ever asked directly for more money, and if you know of men and women who have done so.

Alex said...

I have asked for more money more than once - which has sometimes worked, sometimes not. There is also an element of "You're working for Jesus, you shouldn't need to make a living wage".