Solving the income disparity between the sexes

One of the biggest problems facing the U.S. is the massive ideologically-driven income gap. Fewer people in the middle hurts the economy: despite the myth, the wealthy only create jobs when people are spending – and poor people don’t have much to spend. But fear not, there is a bright side to this.

Currently women make roughly 75 cents to every dollar that men make. That isn’t the bright side and it sounds pretty terrible. Because it is. But that is among all age groups. The numbers gets slightly closer as one gets younger and younger, even if they are still quite a bit apart. It is there, however, that is where the solution lies.

As big box stores and other huge corporations become more and more the norm, people are given fewer and fewer good choices for employment. Yes, the days of real pay are over, but look on the bright side: if everyone is making $8 an hour and there is no middle class, as Republicans and other ideologues want, then from where will disparity between the sexes originate? There will still be big gaps between those at the very top, sure, but they make up a very tiny percentage of the population. As the so-called “job creators” become richer and richer, the jobs they’ll be creating will employ a great number of people – part time, at eight bucks an hour and with no real benefits. Even if men make $8.15 an hour, such disparity will hardly be noticed. Indeed, the sort of peanut raises so many Americans get today already go unnoticed.

38 Responses

  1. A rather closed minded economic outlook, but okay.

    It doesn’t completely make up the disparity, but women tend to choose lower paying positions. A non-profit after law school for example. Study after study shows this.

    Now like I said it doesn’t make up for the whole thing and the disparity is highest in the upper wage brackets, but for that reason it has a higher impact on the statistics over all.

    http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/070621/21wagegap.htm

    The article is a bit old but it outlines part of my point. Again, yes, women tend to make less even in jobs that don’t have a lower pay scale to begin with. Why? Discrimination, yes, but since you haven’t cited anything I don’t know if your numbers take into account maternity leave, higher numbers of sick days taken and a number of other explainable and unexplainable things.

    Look on the bright side Michael, if your doomsday scenario were to come true, everyone could be on the government dole. Just like Democrats intend, put everyone on the road to being slaves, but well taken care of slaves.

    Of course that statement only contains a tiny bit of truth, which is more than I can say for the conspiracy theory you put forward.

  2. -10 points for taking this seriously.

  3. Your 8 days late.

    -20 points for missing April Fools.

  4. The income disparity isn’t a joke.

  5. Maybe not, but statistically overblown and hardly institutionalized as in the past.

  6. Just like pre-1929. Totally overblown.

  7. Why aren’t you concerned that men are underrepresented in higher education? College is almost 60% female, why isn’t that a crime?

    Or maybe its possible that it isn’t anything to be worried about, because a lot of it is individual choices.

  8. Whatever the cause of that disparity, it is not a result of systematic bias and discrimination.

  9. But the pre-1929 stat I was talking about was between the bottom and top, not sexes.

  10. Ideologically drives inequality? Please explain how this post comes anywhere near reality. Why don’t you believe the prevailing wisdom that technology drives a lot of inequality?

    Progressive economists like Matthew Yglesias acceptsthe role winner-takes-all popularity works naturally and unrelated to our laws, and uses that to make redistributive arguments.

    ” Liberals sometimes write about inequality as if only the discovery of some kind of inexplicable conspiracy will justify a progressive policy response. But the real point is that if underlying technological progress is driving surpluses toward a tiny number of people we both can and should “spread the wealth around” a bit.”

    See, you can support the same policy outcomes without having to make lousy arguments.

    The myth of the gender wage gap is THE issue that pushed me out of sociology and into economics. By the way, the alleged gap was calculated at 80% as recently as September, I haven’t heard 75% used as the claim in more than six years. The gender wage gap is one of the most anti-intellectual arguments I have seen outside of a Southern fire-and-brimstone church. People who make it have no curiosity or desire to explain the world realistically. I can not think of a cruder correlation-equals causation argument with such widespread support. Of all the issues you and I have ever disagreed with, I know it is the most concrete and disprovable one. It can not survive the most basic prodding. It is pure political grandstanding with no scientific backing.

  11. You’re right. The conservative movement since 1980, and even before, has done nothing to contribute to the income disparity between the top and the bottom. Despite the gaming of the tax system and loopholes which wildly favor the wealthy.

    As for your point about the gender gap, the best I can find for your number is what people get after they control for factors which are not inherently discriminatory. So congratulations, the income gap is closer to 80%.

  12. I am not saying policy had zero impact on inequality, I am saying it is in no way the major factor. Your original post declared “One of the biggest problems facing the U.S. is the massive ideologically-driven income gap.” If you can find some kind of conclusive evidence to support that notion I will read it.

    I don’t know where you searched for your gender wage gap information, but it is wrong.

    The crude “Gender wage gap” is calculated with the Bureau of Labor Statistics by comparing hourly income of all full-time employees (those who work 35 hours or more per week) The advocates compares these results and claim discrimination is the entire cause.

    Some of the things that should be controlled for include tenure, education, job title, flexibility, exposure to danger on the job, and hours worked per week*.

    I do not see anyone upset about the college degree wage gap, or the gender job fulfillment gap. Women tend to take jobs that are more flexible, fulfilling and as a result, pay less.

    A large portion of them also do this funny thing where they stop working for a year or two to raise children, which has a direct impact on their experience and career goals. Look at comparisons of never-married, no-children women when they first enter the workforce.

    I have seen “controlled” comparisons branded about that compare male and female doctors, where the gap is as low as 90%, and this is supposed to disprove my side. Pause here and note that this new number is much less of a gap, and the authors are admitting the “dramatic gap” is dishonest. However, this new gap is based on a broad category. It compares ER surgeons who work 60+ hour weeks* (typically male) to pediatricians (mostly female, and a lot of them are part-time) “Doctor” is still a wide category.

    “Compensating differentials” are also important here. Look up the gender of most on the job fatalities and injuries. It’s mostly to men because women tend to avoid dangerous work. They also avoid the extra pay that attracts workers to dangerous jobs.

    If you want a better analysis of this problem with an actual study, why not try the 2009 study for the Department of Labor?

    Richard Dawkin has a story about witnessing his professor congratulate someone for proving a cherished theory wrong, because that’s how science is supposed to work. I’m not asking you to do that here, but I would like to know how much evidence do you need to have presented to you before you will consider that you’ve been mislead about this issue? Would any amount of academic research cause you to wonder if the the gender wage gap may be as low as 98% or 99%?

    *Even though the Wage Gap is an hourly wage, there is a phenomena where someones wages increase exponentially the more hours they work in a week, and men tend to work more hours each week.

  13. I thought it was common knowledge that between FDR and LBJ, and after LBJ (especially during the Reagan years), there was a steady stream of thought in the conservative movement that the best way for people to lift themselves from poverty was to have government back away. Specifically, the idea was to bring up the whole lot of society on average. That would leave some behind, but the overall well-being would be increased.

    That’s the nice way of putting it.

    The real way to put it is that while the idea of general uplifting via a better economy was at times genuine, the real point was to lift as many regulations, remove government as much as possible, and to real on the private sector and capitalism. (Since 2008 this idea has shifted to people being under the delusion that the U.S. government is suppose to be libertarian.)

    Unfortunately, the reality has been that when left to its own devices, the ‘free’ market has kept people down and only ever increased the income gap. However, when pragmatic liberal policies of government intervention were put in place, poverty rates actually declined.

    Things got really bad in the Reagan years. While the man did raise taxes anywhere from 6-11 times, and he did massively increase the government with the Department of Veteran Affairs, he actually lowered many taxes for the wealthy, especially in capital gains, which is where a fair amount of tax revenue used to originate.

    Underlying this whole process has been the American ideal of pulling one’s self up by the boot straps. Loosely translated, such an ideal manifests itself as libertarianism, or at least extreme pro-capitalism. (Communist fears were also a contribution.)

    On the very real gender gap, many of the studies I’ve seen have specifically controlled for the factors you’ve named – and more. The gap shrinks depending upon the specific study, but it still exists and it is still significant. This is true especially in science. Other than construction and politics, science has had a long history of discriminating against women. This is changing more and more, especially whereas religion has contributed to a great divide between conservatives and free-thinkers who tend to be very intelligent, but it still exists.

  14. Please share some of these controlled studies. And regardless, if you have sen the controlled studies, why did your original post reference the “raw” gender wage gap – and not the current one, but the higher one from 1989? (It turned out even though the feminist activists at my college were saying 75%, that number hadn’t been the case for 16 years)

    Please share this controlled experiment you keep referencing. I shared the department of labor study backing mine, as well as the well-understood theory its based on. It appears what you’re saying is that discrimination is a bigger factor than compensating differentials, tenure, education, flexibility, trade-offs, hours worked and benefit packages COMBINED.

    I’m sure you know some people who are engineering majors – a very lucrative field. Why not ask them what the gender ratios are like for their classes, and tell me if you think that’s because of the aggregate choices of individual students, or discrimination. How obvious does this have to be before you’ll consider changing your mind?

  15. I’m not going to spend as much time on your “what is best for society” stance because it isn’t a slam-dunk like the gender wage gap, but it seems we have to disagree on the facts as well as the interpretations.

    LBJ’s war on poverty was a dismal failure, and Reagan and the Bush’s did not dismantle the welfare state like you assume. Infact, W. Bush increased it substantially – that’s one of the major criticisms of him from libertarians along with his assault on civil liberities.

    It’s not that we want people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, something I don’t hear from my side, but instead believe the welfare state corrupts peoples’ intensives and gives them a reward for making poor decisions.

    Internationally, economies both liberalized (lower taxes, free market, free trade) since the 1980s and and became wealthier. The average standard of living in America is much higher than it was in 2000, even with the recession.

    I am reminded of Keynsian economist John Kenneth Galbraith’s claim that all the problems in New York City would be solved if the budget was twice as big. By 1960 the NYC budget had tripled and all the problems were worse.

  16. As for the history lesson you ignored, it is irrelevant how the underfunded War On Poverty did (even though poverty was reduced). The point is that it is an ingrained notion in the conservative movement that pulling one’s self up by the boot straps is the best way to do away with poverty. I recommend reading William Chafe if you’re really that ignorant about this, but any high school history buff ought to be able to explain this to you.

  17. I think you’ve been spending a lot of time reading about creationists, because you just used the “Gish Gallop” technique of blanketing the debate with too many claims to refute.

    Most of the links reference some activist study from “Catalyst.” The business week link was the first one I clicked, and the very first comment reveals some of the factors it did not control for.

    So what did the author reply?

    “First, who said Catalyst was an unbiased source? I didn’t. In fact, that’s why I included the description of Catalyst…so readers know it has an agenda. Second, who portrayed the survey findings as fact? Again, not I. If that were my goal, I probably wouldn’t have said: “if you take the…research at face value…” I would have just taken it at face value”

    And Lilly Ledbetter links? Jeeze, talk about anecdotes as evidence… Why don’t you just form a church around this idea?

    I don’t think you so much as skimmed some of these articles, because they taught me that female executives are paid more. They also include a lot of Warren Farrell – someone who wrote a book on this issue as a myth.

    Regardless, since you insist that the discrimination plays the largest factor, and I have shown that the 80% rate was a “raw” number, what is your controlled amount? I didn’t see the Catalyst piece list this number, it instead mentioned annual salary (and perhaps on purpose) so if you only have one thing to reply here, it’s this

    What number do you believe is the gender wage gap in 2011 caused by discrimination???

  18. “In 2003, GAO found that women, on average, earned 80 percent of what men earned in 2000 and workplace discrimination may be one contributing factor.”

    “Women in science and engineering are hindered not by lack of ability but by bias and “outmoded institutional structures” in academia, an expert panel reported yesterday.”

    “But even when you control for occupation and a host of other variables, economists still find an unexplained gender gap of anywhere from around a nickel to a dime or more on the dollar.”

    “The first is a 2000 study by economists Claudia Goldin of Harvard and Cecilia Rouse of Princeton on discrimination in orchestra hiring practices. Until recently, the music directors of America’s greatest symphony orchestras hand-picked most of the musicians and, no surprise, nearly all of the musicians were men. But, as Goldin and Rouse report in their study, when musicians auditioned behind closed curtains, their genders hidden from the judges, the hiring results changed dramatically — women were 50 percent more likely to advance in the selection process.
    The blind audition process “fostered impartiality in hiring and increased the proportion of women in symphony orchestras,” according to the study authors. Now, orchestras routinely conduct auditions behind curtains to eliminate possible gender bias, and gender numbers are now relatively equal in the orchestra world.

    Second example: Emily Sands, a Princeton economics student who wrote her senior thesis under Rouse’s supervision, found discrimination against female playwrights in the theater community. Sands tested for discrimination directly by sending out identical scripts, one written by authors with male names, such as Michael and George, and one written by authors with female names, such as Mary and Jennifer, to artistic directors and literary managers, asking for their reviews. The reviewers consistently rated Mary’s script much more negatively than Michael’s script, even though the only difference in the script was in the author’s name.”

  19. I got into a lengthy debate elsewhere about how it isn’t the right’s motivation to hold women back. I was arguing specifically within the context of the abortion issue because outside that point, I had to agree with my opponents. This only reinforces that view.

  20. Is this really the tactic you want to display to the world? Flooding your posts with irrelevant information?

    You tried to make a point by saying the news media believes there is a gender wage gap caused by discrimination – the same news media that thinks alternative medicine works, mind you.

    So let’s see what your round of quotes actually say.

    Your first quote is about A Government Accountability Office report and references the “Raw” number. The name of the report is Women’s Pay: Gender Pay Gap in the Federal Workforce Narrows as Differences in Occupation, Education, and Experience Diminish”

    The second is a Lilly Ledbetter political piece, that political issue has been addressed here already.

    The third, the one that answers what I’ve asked you to address – it states the gender wage gap is 90 or 95 cents for every dollar, a far cry from the 75 cents you claimed. This is attributed to Ilene Lang of Catalyst activist group – the same one I’ve already accused of having a strong bias and not including all factors.

    The last two are not about the gender wage gap, but discrimination in general. That’s related, but still off topic. No one is saying discrimination does not exist.,

    So since this is what you posted in answer to what percentage does discrimination play in the controlled gender wage gap, I must conclude you believe in the activist groups fishy 90-95 cents per dollar. Since you first listed 75 cents per dollar, that means you inflated the number from 2.5 times its size to 5 time its size – not inflated what the reality is, but inflated what the political groups on your side say it is.

    Science doesn’t always tell us what we want to hear, and we should let the science guide our political beliefs, not the other way around.

    I’m unclear about your last comment. It reads that you believe the political right is not motivated to “hold women back” but you could have meant the opposite.

  21. Is this really the tactic you want to display to the world? Flooding your posts with irrelevant information?

    You mean quotes that you magically missed?

    You tried to make a point by saying the news media believes there is a gender wage gap caused by discrimination – the same news media that thinks alternative medicine works, mind you.

    I have never made that point. The gender income gap is something that actually exists, regardless of what the media thinks.

    Your first quote is about A Government Accountability Office report and references the “Raw” number.

    It also referenced that discrimination is a contributing factor. Funny that you missed that part.

    The second is a Lilly Ledbetter political piece, that political issue has been addressed here already.

    Yes, you don’t like it. I’m not sure how that really qualifies as addressing an issue, but okay. But regardless of what sources you’re willing to trust, women do face quite a bit of discrimination in science and academia.

    The third, the one that answers what I’ve asked you to address – it states the gender wage gap is 90 or 95 cents for every dollar, a far cry from the 75 cents you claimed.

    And that’s the absolute highest number available.

    So since this is what you posted in answer to what percentage does discrimination play in the controlled gender wage gap, I must conclude you believe in the activist groups fishy 90-95 cents per dollar.

    Actually, I think their number is high because it is out of line with most other studies that correct for various factors. You can find them on Wikipedia.

    Since you first listed 75 cents per dollar, that means you inflated the number from 2.5 times its size to 5 time its size

    Actually, I stated the number I hear most often. I then agreed with you on a number closer to 80%.

    I’m unclear about your last comment.

    Then stop skimming.

    I got into a lengthy debate elsewhere about how it isn’t the right’s motivation to hold women back.

    In other words, on another website, I debated that it is not the right-wing’s motivation to hold women back. However,

    I was arguing specifically within the context of the abortion issue

    As you have read me do in the past. Because you see,

    outside [the abortion issue], I had to agree with my opponents.

    What this complex, ever-so-difficult sentence means is that I agree that the right-wing in the United States is strongly motivated to hold women back.

    This only reinforces that view.

    “This” being the above and continuing discussion here.

  22. I was being generous when I said I was unclear. You stated that you were arguing the right is not motivated by wanting to hold women back – an action that doesn’t sound like something you’d do. Don’t communicate poorly than blame the reader when you are not understood.

    Just to be clear, the gender wage gap is lower the higher the numbers are presented. You stated 75%, Then you said you agree it is the raw 80%. After that you gave links that put it at 90-95%. An observer would see I repeatedly asked what you believe is when adjusted for non-discriminatory factors. You are now stating it is 80%, which is the same as the raw number.

    But you’ve moved your goal post and are now trying to say that I don’t believe discrimination has any factor at all – it very well may, but it is by no means the cause of the majority of the gap. Even the biased Catalyst report says it is around 90 to 95 cents on the dollar, so lets average that out to 92.5 cents. Since the Raw gap is at 80 you have, even from the activists, 62.5% explained and 37.5% unexplained – and the assumption is that the unexplained is discrimination.

    There are other reports that show no unexplained (discrimination) wage gap, and I’m inclined to agree with them, but I’d rather prove my point with the studies you dredged up.

  23. This isn’t that hard, Michael. I got into a debate where I argued one position within a narrow spectrum. However, that position is not one that works for me when applied broadly. It’s all there, clear as day. I find it difficult to fathom that I’m not communicating well when it is only you who manages to routinely need analysis of what people say.

    Then you said you agree it is the raw 80%

    See, this is what I’m talking about. You claim, all by your lonesome, that I don’t communicate clearly, but it’s clear that you just aren’t reading. Here’s what I actually said:

    As for your point about the gender gap, the best I can find for your number is what people get after they control for factors which are not inherently discriminatory. So congratulations, the income gap is closer to 80%.

    Perhaps you can grace us with your English skills and explain how that means I was talking about raw numbers. Go ahead. I eagerly await your analysis.

    An observer would see I repeatedly asked what you believe is when adjusted for non-discriminatory factors.

    An observer trained in science, unlike yourself, would recognize that a basic of science is that it takes a number of studies and a number of results to draw hard conclusions. Right now that puts us near 80%. A single outlier places us at or over 90%. I’m sticking with the broad body of evidence.

    But you’ve moved your goal post and are now trying to say that I don’t believe discrimination has any factor at all

    Quote, please. (And try and not just skim before posting, please.)

  24. I’ve seen you engaged in countless arguments with other people where you frequently claim to be misunderstood.

    I don’t see why this simple message has been unable to penetrate your skull: social activists are giving a “raw” number based on the BLS totals that do not take other factors into account. It is irrelevant what the “raw” gap is when you want to find out how much is discrimination.

    No self-respecting scientist would knowingly water down a meta-study with bogus studies. Reasonable people can disagree if a well-designed study trumps a good meta study or not, but I can’t see any reason to believe that activist reports with known problems should be placed alongside neutral studies.

    Here’s a quote of you trying to knock down the straw man that I’m saying there is no discrimination. “But regardless of what sources you’re willing to trust, women do face quite a bit of discrimination in science and academia.”

    I think you’ve good at repeating conclusions scientists have made, such as that Darwinian evolution is a real concept and alternative medicine is bunk. However, you have demonstrated here that you lack certain skills in using science to reach your own conclusion. Perhaps that’s unfair as this is only one issue, but your inability to understand basic concepts of logic is glaring here, and its clear that you champion your own emotions over reason.

  25. social activists are giving a “raw” number based on the BLS totals that do not take other factors into account.

    I don’t know why you can’t read where those studies say they are accounting for a whole slew of factors first. But then you suck at English.

    Here’s a quote of you trying to knock down the straw man that I’m saying there is no discrimination.

    For fuck’s sake. Learn to fucking read, man. This is your slimeball tactic: intentionally skim posts and then claim they say something convivial to your misogynistic/ideological position.

  26. With so many people running around with the same economic ideology as you, it’s no wonder the income gap is greater than before 1929. It’s no wonder corporations are not creating jobs despite the $2 trillion they are sitting on. It’s no wonder the economy hasn’t rebounded more quickly. It’s no wonder the health care and social service systems of so many other Western nations are so wildly superior to America’s. It’s the poverty of understanding that people like you bring to the table that has put us – and especially minorities and women – where we are today.

    (Oh, and go ahead and claim what I just said somehow favors your position and I actually appear to agree with you. It will totally be my fault that you hate to read.)

  27. I have read every word you’ve written here atleast twice. You keep presenting the raw number as an adjusted number and you can’t grasp that including some factors is different from including all known factors.

    There is nothing anti-woman about using reason and science to avoid declaring a wage gap can only be explained by discrimination. You shouldn’t take prejudice so lightly, as you diminish its horror by crying wolf.

    I don’t know what that has to do with free market ideology. I don’t understand why you’re surprised the income gap would be higher in a wealthier society – a poor society would have very little room for inequality. I also don’t know what our heavily regulated health care system should be a point against free markets. And I certainly don’t know why you act as if America is a nation of lords and serfs, when America’s poor are better off than the average European.

    As for the recession, I keep seeing you bring up this $2 trillion liquidity trap* as some sort of simplistic “gotcha” moment. I’m curious why you never address the “regime uncertainty” response my said has routinely made.

    Let me save you the trouble. The big kids who study economics are working on this problem and as an outsider, your only input is to parrot someone elses answer. You may be correct – it may be a liquidity trap (even though you are not familiar enough with the Keynesian argument to use that term) but there are other explanations like the one I listed above. I don’t come stomping into Dawkins vs. Gould biology discussions to repeat that punctuated equilibrium is oversold because I read a single Dawkins essay on it. If I don’t know the other side of an issue, I don’t know mine – and the same is true for everyone else. If you want to hold strong opinions on a subject, learn about it first. When you can explain what comparative advantage is, or what the three major examples of market failures are, I might start to take your views seriously.

    *That’s a Keynesian concept, not an Austrian or Chicago school “freshwater” concept.

  28. You keep presenting the raw number as an adjusted number and you can’t grasp that including some factors is different from including all known factors.

    First, no, it is an adjusted number. Second, nice goal post moving. Third, are you going to correct yourself now? You claimed I agreed with you about the raw 80% number, but I have quoted where I clearly said it was not a raw number I was giving. I either await your literary analysis or a correction. And in case you have forgotten, here is what I said:

    As for your point about the gender gap, the best I can find for your number is what people get after they control for factors which are not inherently discriminatory. So congratulations, the income gap is closer to 80%.

    Please explain how that statement is agreeing with you about the raw number. I’ll bother to read the rest of your post once you do so (or correct yourself).

  29. Because 79.6 cents on the dollar is the “raw” gender wage gap of 2010, which rounds off to 80 cents. The semi-adjusted gap (accounts for some but not all factors) the Catalyst study was about 92.5 cents on the dollar – and that’s from the activists. And even if it’s not true, that is the study you shared over and over again.

  30. So I must be using your ‘facts’? Then how do you explain “the best I can find for your number” and “after they control for factors”? What did you think those things meant in my sentence? Or were you just skimming again?

    I asked for an analysis, not a distortion.

  31. I explain that by you arguing from your own personal incredulity and incorrectly labeling raw data as adjusted data. If you can’t find the blue link text in my previous one-paragraph post, perhaps there’s no hope for you.

  32. I guess words don’t matter, huh?

  33. They only matter if your feelings are hurt.

  34. My passion for language, not my feelings.

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