Gender pay gap

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The European Commission defines the gender pay gap as the average difference between men's and women's aggregate hourly earnings. The wage gap is due to a variety of causes, such as differences in education choices, differences in preferred job and industry, differences in the types of positions held by men and women, differences in the type of jobs men typically go into as opposed to women (especially highly paid high risk jobs), differences in amount of work experience, difference in length of the work week, and breaks in employment. These factors resolve 60% to 75% of the pay gap, depending on the source. Various explanations for the remaining 25% to 40% have been suggested, including women's lower willingness and ability to negotiate salaries or else due to discrimination.[1][2][3] According to the European Commission direct discrimination only explains a small part of gender wage differences.[4][5]

In the United States, the average female's unadjusted annual salary has been cited as 78% of that of the average male.[6] However, multiple studies from OECD, AAUW, and the US Department of Labor have found that pay rates between males and females varied by 5–6.6% or, females earning 94 cents to every dollar earned by their male counterparts, when wages were adjusted to different individual choices made by male and female workers in college major, occupation, working hours, and maternal/paternal leave. The remaining 6% of the gap has been speculated to originate from deficiency in salary negotiating skills and sexual discrimination.[7][8][9][10]

In the UK, the aggregate gender pay gap has continued to close and as of 2012, the gap officially dropped below 10% for full-time workers.[11][12] The aggregate gender pay gap can also be viewed as a generational sliding scale with females between 55–65 with the largest disparity (18%) and females between the ages of 25–35 with the smallest disparity (6%).[13]

Over time[edit]

US women's weekly earnings as a percentage of men's by age, 1979–2005.

Looking at the gender pay gap over time, the United States Congress Joint Economic Committee showed that, as explained inequities decrease, the unexplained pay gap remains unchanged.[14] Similarly, according to economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn and their research into the gender pay gap in the United States, a steady convergence between the wages of women and men is not automatic. They argue that after a considerable rise in women's wages during the 1980s, the gain decreased in the 1990s, which was due mainly to a much faster decline in the "unexplained" part of the gap during the 1980s than in the 1990s. They also contend that the slowing of this decline may have been caused by multiple factors, including "changes in labor force selectivity, changes in gender differences in unmeasured characteristics and in labor market discrimination, and changes in the favorableness of demand shifts."[15] A mixed picture of increase and decline characterizes the 2000s. Thus Blau and Kahn assume:

With the evidence suggesting that convergence has slowed in recent years, the possibility arises that the narrowing of the gender pay gap will not continue into the future. Moreover, there is evidence that although discrimination against women in the labor market has declined, some discrimination does still continue to exist.[3]

A wide ranging meta-analysis by Doris Weichselbaumer and Rudolf Winter-Ebmer (2005) of more than 260 published adjusted pay gap studies for over 60 countries has found that, from the 1960s to the 1990s, raw wage differentials worldwide have fallen substantially from around 65 to 30%. The bulk of this decline, however, was due to better labor market endowments of women. The 260 published estimates show that the unexplained component of the gap has not declined over time. Using their own specifications, Weichselbaumer and Winter-Ebmer found that the yearly overall decline of the gender pay gap would amount to a slow 0.17 log points, implying a slow level of convergence between the wages of men and women.[16]

Another meta-analysis of 41 empirical studies on the wage gap performed in 1998 found a similar time trend in estimated pay gaps, a decrease of roughly 1% per year.[17]

According to economist Alan Manning of the London School of Economics, the process of closing the gender pay gap has slowed substantially and women could earn less than men for the next 150 years because of discrimination and ineffective government policies.[18][19] A 2011 study by the British CMI revealed that if pay growth continues for female executives at current rates, the gap between the earnings of female and male executives would not be closed until 2109.[20] Women Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) are paid 16% lower on average as compared to their male counterparts.[21]

According to the most recent analysis prepared for the United States Department of Labor:

Although additional research in this area is clearly needed, this study leads to the unambiguous conclusion that the differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and that the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers.[22]

The differences in the opinion of a variety of different sources, economists and think tanks have led many to believe that corrective action may be necessary in the future if evidence is found that widespread discrimination is happening in the work place among every business, but until hard evidence is provided things ought to stay the same.

By country[edit]

The gender gap in median earnings of full-time employees according to the OECD 2015.[23]

Australia[edit]

In Australia, the gender pay gap is calculated on the average weekly ordinary time earnings for full-time employees published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The gender pay gap excludes part-time, casual earnings and overtime payments.[24]

Australia has a persistent gender pay gap. Between 1990 and 2009, the gender pay gap remained within a narrow range of between 15 and 17%.[25] In August 2010, the Australian gender pay gap was 16.9%.[26]

Ian Watson of Macquarie University examined the gender pay gap among full-time managers in Australia over the period 2001–2008, and found that between 65 and 90% of this earnings differential could not be explained by a large range of demographic and labor market variables. In fact, a "major part of the earnings gap is simply due to women managers being female." Watson also notes that despite the "characteristics of male and female managers being remarkably similar, their earnings are very different, suggesting that discrimination plays an important role in this outcome."[27] A 2009 report to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs also found that "simply being a woman is the major contributing factor to the gap in Australia, accounting for 60 per cent of the difference between women's and men's earnings, a finding which reflects other Australian research in this area." The second most important factor in explaining the pay gap was industrial segregation.[25] A report by the World Bank also found that women in Australia who worked part-time jobs and were married came from households which had a gendered distribution of labor, possessed high job satisfaction, and hence were not motivated to increase their working hours.[28]

Canada[edit]

A study of wages among Canadian supply chain managers found that men make an average of $14,296 a year more than women.[29] The research suggests that as supply chain managers move up the corporate ladder, they are less likely to be female.

Each province and territory in Canada has a quasi-constitutional human rights code which prohibits discrimination based on sex. Several also have laws specifically prohibiting public sector and private sector employers from paying men and women differing amounts for substantially similar work. Verbatim, the Alberta Human Rights Act states in regards to equal pay, "Where employees of both sexes perform the same or substantially similar work for an employer in an establishment the employer shall pay the employees at the same rate of pay."[30]

Dominican Republic[edit]

Dominican women, who are 52.2% of the labor force, earns an average of 20,479 Dominican pesos, 2.6% more than Dominican men's average income of 19,961 pesos.[31]

European Union[edit]

Gender gap in average gross hourly earnings according to Eurostat 2014.[32]

At EU level, the gender pay gap is defined as the relative difference in the average gross hourly earnings of women and men within the economy as a whole. Eurostat found a persisting gender pay gap of 17.5% on average in the 27 EU Member States in 2008. There were considerable differences between the Member States, with the pay gap ranging from less than 10% in Italy, Slovenia, Malta, Romania, Belgium, Portugal, and Poland to more than 20% in Slovakia, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Germany, United Kingdom, and Greece and more than 25% in Estonia and Austria.[32] However, taking into account the hours worked in Finland, men there only earned 0.4% more in net income than women.[33][34]

A recent survey of international employment law firms showed that gender pay gap reporting is not a common policy internationally. Despite such laws on a national level being few and far between, there are calls for regulation on an EU level. A recent (as of December 2015) resolution of the European Parliament urged the Commission to table legislation closing the pay gap. A proposal that is substantively the same as the UK plan was passed by 344 votes to 156 in the European Parliament.[citation needed]

Germany[edit]

Women earned 22–23% less than men, according to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany. The revised gender pay gap was 6-8% in the years 2006–2013.[35] The Cologne Institute for Economic Research adjusted the wage gap to less than 2%. They reduced the gender pay gap from 25% to 11% by taking in account the work hours, education and the period of employment. The difference in revenue was reduced furthermore if women hadn't paused their job for more than 18 months due to motherhood.[36][37]

The most significant factors associated with the remaining gender pay gap are part-time work, education and occupational segregation (less women in leading positions and in fields like STEM).[38]

UK[edit]

In the UK, the most significant factors associated with the remaining gender pay gap are part-time work, education, the size of the firm a person is employed in, and occupational segregation (women are under-represented in managerial and high-paying professional occupations).[39] When comparing full-time roles, men in the UK tend to work longer hours than women in full-time employment. Depending on the age bracket and percentile of hours worked men in full-time employment work between 1.35% and 17.94% more hours than women in full-time employment.[40] When comparing part-time roles women out-earn men by 6.5% in 2015 (up from 5.5% in 2014).[41]

In October 2014, the Equality Act 2010 was augmented with regulations which require Employment Tribunals to order an employer (except an existing micro-business or a new business) to carry out an equal pay audit where the employer is found to have breached equal pay law.[42]

A 2015 study compiled by the Press Association based on data from the Office for National Statistics revealed that women in their 20s were out-earning men in their 20s by an average of £1,111, suggesting a reversal of trends. However, the same study showed that men in their 30s out-earned women in their 30s by an average of £8775. The study did not attempt to explain the causes of the gender gap.[43][needs update]

United States[edit]

In the United States, the gender pay gap is measured as the ratio of female to male median yearly earnings among full-time, year-round (FTYR) workers. The female-to-male earnings ratio was 0.77 in 2012, meaning that, in 2012, female FTYR workers earned 77% as much as male FTYR workers.[44] Women's median yearly earnings relative to men's rose rapidly from 1980 to 1990 (from 60.2% to 71.6%), and less rapidly from 1990 to 2000 (from 71.6% to 73.7%) and from 2000 to 2009 (from 73.7% to 77.0%).[45][46] More recent statistics show in 2014 that women's median pay has increased to 79 cents, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research.[47]

The raw wage gap data shows that a woman would earn roughly 73.7% to 77% of what a man would earn over their lifetime. However, when controllable variables are accounted for, such as job position, total hours worked, number of children, and the frequency at which unpaid leave is taken, in addition to other factors, a United States Department of Labor study, conducted by the CONSAD Research Group, found in 2008 that the gap can be brought down from 23% to between 4.8% and 7.1%.[48]

The gender pay gap has been attributed to differences in personal and workplace characteristics between women and men (education, hours worked, occupation, etc.) as well as direct and indirect discrimination in the labor market (gender stereotypes, customer and employer bias etc.).[49][50][51]

The estimates for the discriminatory component of the gender pay gap include 5%[52]:2 and 7%[53]:9 for federal jobs, and a study showed that these grow as men and women's careers progress.[53]:93 One economist testified to Congress that hundreds of studies have consistently found unexplained pay differences which potentially include discrimination.[53]:80 Another criticized these studies as insufficiently controlled, and said that men and women would have equal pay if they made the same choices and had the same experience, education, etc.[52]:

Other studies have found direct evidence of discrimination in recruitment.[54] A 2007 study showed that for identical resumes fewer replies were sent to men compared with women (it also showed that women do worse when they have children, while men do worse when they don't).[54] Another study showed more jobs for women when orchestras moved to blind auditions although, in normal orchestra interviews, women were preferentially chosen over men for some instruments, such as the flute.[52][not in citation given] Contrary to these other studies finding discrimination against women, a 2015 study showed that women were preferred by a factor of 2 for academic roles in STEM subjects.[55]

In 2013, a study performed by Payscale showed that in individual contributor levels, the pay gap is as low as 2%.[citation needed]

Impact[edit]

Pensions[edit]

The European Commission argues that the gender pay gap has far-reaching effects, especially in regard to pensions. Since women's earnings over a lifetime are on average 17.5% (as of 2008) lower than men's, these lower earnings result in lower pensions. As a result, elderly women are more likely to face poverty: 22% of women aged 65 and over are at risk of poverty compared to 16% of men.[56]

Economy[edit]

A 2009 report for the Australian Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs argued that in addition to fairness and equity there are also strong economic imperatives for addressing the gender wage gap. The researchers estimated that a decrease in the gender wage gap from 17% to 16% would increase GDP per capita by approximately $260, mostly from an increase in the hours females would work. Ignoring opposing factors as hours females work increase, eliminating the whole gender wage gap from 17% could be worth around $93 billion or 8.5% of GDP. The researchers estimated the causes of the wage gap as follows, lack of work experience was 7%, lack of formal training was 5%, occupational segregation was 25%, working at smaller firms was 3%, and being female represented the remaining 60%.[25]

An October 2012 study by the American Association of University Women found that over the course of 47 years, an American woman with a college degree will make about $1.2 million less than a man with the same education.[57] Therefore, closing the pay gap by raising women's wages would have a stimulus effect that would grow the United States economy by at least 3% to 4%.[58][not in citation given] By increasing women's workplace participation from its present rate of 76% to 84%, as it is in Sweden, the US could add 5.1 million women to the workforce, again, 3% to 4% of the size of the United States economy.[59]

Economic theories[edit]

Neoclassical models[edit]

In certain neoclassical models, discrimination by employers can be inefficient; excluding or limiting employment of a specific group will raise the wages of groups not facing discrimination. Other firms could then gain a competitive advantage by hiring more workers from the group facing discrimination. As a result, in the long run discrimination would not occur. However, this view depends heavily on strong assumptions about the labor market and the production functions of the firms attempting to discriminate.[60] Firms which discriminate on the basis of real or perceived customer or employee preferences would also not necessarily see discrimination disappear in the long run even under stylized models.[61]

Monopsony explanation[edit]

In monopsony theory, wage discrimination can be explained by variations in labor mobility constraints between workers. Ransom and Oaxaca (2005) show that women appear to be less pay sensitive than men, and therefore employers take advantage of this and discriminate in their pay for women workers.[62]

Effect of job choices[edit]

In Canada, it is shown that women are more likely to seek employment opportunities which greatly contrast the ones of men. About 20 percent of women, between the ages of 25 and 54, will make just under $12 an hour in Canada. The demographic of women who take jobs paying less than $12 an hour is also a proportion that is twice as large as the proportion of men taking on the same type of low-wage work. There still remains the question of why such a trend seems to resonate throughout the developed world. One identified societal factor that has been identified is the influx of women of color and immigrants into the work force. These groups both tend to be subject to lower paying jobs from a statistical perspective.[63] Men are more likely to be in relatively high-paying industries such as mining, construction, or manufacturing and to be represented by a union. Women, in contrast, are more likely to be in clerical jobs and to work in the service industry. These factors explain 53% of the wage gap.[3]

Effect of socialization[edit]

Another social factor, which is related to the aforementioned one, is the socialization of individuals to adopt specific gender roles.[64][65] Job choices influenced by socialization are often slotted in to "demand-side" decisions in frameworks of wage discrimination,[66] rather than a result of extant labor market discrimination influencing job choice.[67]

Anti-discrimination legislation[edit]

According to the 2008 edition of the Employment Outlook report by the OECD, almost all OECD countries have established laws to combat discrimination on grounds of gender. Examples of this are the Equal Pay Act of 1973 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[68] Legal prohibition of discriminatory behavior, however, can only be effective if it is enforced. The OECD points out that:

"herein lies a major problem: in all OECD countries, enforcement essentially relies on the victims' willingness to assert their claims. But many people are not even aware of their legal rights regarding discrimination in the workplace. And even if they are, proving a discrimination claim is intrinsically difficult for the claimant and legal action in courts is a costly process, whose benefits down the road are often small and uncertain. All this discourages victims from lodging complaints."[69]

Moreover, although many OECD countries have put in place specialized anti-discrimination agencies, only in a few of them are these agencies effectively empowered, in the absence of individual complaints, to investigate companies, take actions against employers suspected of operating discriminatory practices, and sanction them when they find evidence of discrimination.[69][70]

In 2003, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that women in the United States, on average, earned 80% of what men earned in 2000 and workplace discrimination may be one contributing factor. In light of these findings, GAO examined the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in the private and public sectors. In a 2008 report, GAO focused on the enforcement and outreach efforts of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor (Labor). GAO found that EEOC does not fully monitor gender pay enforcement efforts and that Labor does not monitor enforcement trends and performance outcomes regarding gender pay or other specific areas of discrimination. GAO came to the conclusion that "federal agencies should better monitor their performance in enforcing anti-discrimination laws."[71][72]

In 2016, the EEOC proposed a rule to submit more information on employee wages by gender to better monitor and combat gender discrimination.

Criticism of the famous "77%" number[edit]

There have been criticisms of the gender pay gap in the United States, in particular regarding the estimate that the average woman's earnings are approximately equivalent to 77–78% of the average man's. Most notably, equity feminist and philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers has repeatedly criticized the estimate, describing it as a "wage gap myth".[73][74][75] According to Sommers, "when you control for relevant differences between men and women (occupations, college majors, length of time in workplace) the wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing".[73] She argues that "[t]he 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time", but that "[i]t does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure, or hours worked per week" between men and women workers.[74] When these factors are controlled, Sommers believes that "the wage gap narrows to about five cents", but that "no one knows if the five cents is a result of discrimination or some other subtle, hard-to-measure difference between male and female workers".[74] Nevertheless, Sommers believes that it is "demeaning" to women to imply "that they are manipulated into their life choices by forces beyond their control", which she considers "divorced from reality".[75]

Hanna Rosin of Slate argues that "the gender wage gap [that women make 77 cents to every man's dollar] is a lie", arguing that it is an inaccurate and "misleading statistic" which fails to grasp the complexity of the gender pay gap. In her article, she states that: "The point here is not that there is no wage inequality. But by focusing our outrage into a tidy, misleading statistic we've missed the actual challenges." According to Rosin, [i]t's the deeper, more systemic discrimination of inadequate family-leave policies and childcare options, of women defaulting to being the caretakers" that causes the gender pay gap.[76]

In response to President Obama's "persistent '77-cent' claim on the wage gap", Glenn Kessler gave it "Two Pinocchios" on the Fact Checker blog at The Washington Post. Kessler states that while "[f]ew experts dispute that there is a wage gap", the "differences in the life choices of men and women—such as women tending to leave the workforce when they have children—make it difficult to make simple comparisons". In his opinion, he believes that President Obama "must begin to acknowledge that '77 cents' does not begin to capture what is actually happening in the work force and society".[77]

See also[edit]

For other Wage Gaps:

General:

References[edit]

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