Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Annals of derp: Outlaws of Gender Gap

Hey, happy Pay Equality Day! This is a piece from last week at my place, but I thought I'd run it again here in honor of the occasion.

From Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute, a chart showing (at least to his satisfaction) that according to the latest (2012) numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics,  "Once you impose the ‘ceteris paribus’ condition, the alleged 23% gender pay gap starts to quickly evaporate."
You see? It's just an artifact of your family status! If you've never been married and you're a woman, you get to earn almost 96% of what a man who has never been married earns, and if you're a woman who is not married at the moment but with grown-up kids about the same. It's only if you're married and live with a spouse that you earn 80% or less than a man who is married and lives with a spouse, who might well be you, since she who has a spouse is a spouse, so it's all good, right?

Men's incomes by marital status, 1975-2010. Actually from the Heritage Foundation.
that's partly because men who have never been married make so pathetically little money. Because that 100% in the first chart there is $42,000 in 2010 dollars on the left side and $20,000 on the right. Women's pay, in other words, is practically equal to men's, as long as the men you're talking about are the ones who are paid the least. "All things being equal" meaning that the 55% of women who are married living with a spouse earn three quarters of what the spouses living with a woman do.

Of course as Perry notes,
BLS data show that marriage has a significant and negative effect on women’s earnings relative to men’s, but we can assume that marriage is a voluntary lifestyle decision, and it’s that choice, not labor market discrimination, that contributes to much of the gender wage gap for married workers.
That's relative to men's. If Perry talked himself into believing that women sacrifice money so they can have husbands, he's blinded by his own stupid chart. In absolute terms married women earn more than single ones; they're just less equal. Your voluntary choice is, men can choose to marry if they want to make a lot more money ($42K instead of $20K) and women can choose to do it if they want to earn a little less more money (80% of $42K instead of 95% of $20K). How complicated is that?

By the way, there's a statistic in that article that doesn't deserve snark: it turns out that among women ages 20 to 34 the pay gap against their male counterparts is only about 90%. Perry doesn't offer an explanation for that one beyond suggesting that he did it himself by the way he ran the numbers and (thinks he) knows what ceteris paribus means, as an example of how the gender gap is in some sense fictional—
controlling for only one variable – age – we find that almost half of the unadjusted raw wage gap disappears for young workers.
—but it's pretty clear that there's a reason for it, which is that progressive policies are leading to progress; younger women are closer to parity with men because they're moving up in the job market in the wake of the Lily Ledbetter act and other efforts to fix that gap. The work is already halfway done!


Julia said...

So ladies, don't get married if you want to keep those wages up. Except if you don't get married people will assume there's something wrong with you, especially the same creeps who think you should be at home having babies. (Provided it is within the bounds of holy matrimony!)

Yastreblyansky said...

Not exactly--you'll earn more money if you're married, just nowhere near as much as the hubbie. Whereas if you stay single you'll be poor but almost equal to your shlubby slacker boyfriend, should you have the misfortune to have one. That's how our mysterious overlords have arranged things.

Victor said...

It's Equal Pay Day, so Republicans everywhere are praying the women are too "busy" to notice!

Ken_L said...

Yes the conservative argument is basically that we happen to live in a patriarchy where the rules mean it's easier for men to get their hands on the money while women look after the breeding bit. There's nothing unequal about it because it's just the culture or God's will or something and it would be repugnant social engineering to try to change it.