Carrie Lukas does the math on the male-female pay gap

Carrie Lukas
Carrie Lukas

A popular article by Carrie Lukas, writing in the Wall Street Journal. (H/T Mary)


The unemployment rate is consistently higher among men than among women. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 9.3% of men over the age of 16 are currently out of work. The figure for women is 8.3%. Unemployment fell for both sexes over the past year, but labor force participation (the percentage of working age people employed) also dropped. The participation rate fell more among men (to 70.4% today from 71.4% in March 2010) than women (to 58.3% from 58.8%). That means much of the improvement in unemployment numbers comes from discouraged workers—particularly male ones—giving up their job searches entirely.

Men have been hit harder by this recession because they tend to work in fields like construction, manufacturing and trucking, which are disproportionately affected by bad economic conditions. Women cluster in more insulated occupations, such as teaching, health care and service industries.

[…]The Department of Labor’s Time Use survey shows that full-time working women spend an average of 8.01 hours per day on the job, compared to 8.75 hours for full-time working men. One would expect that someone who works 9% more would also earn more. This one fact alone accounts for more than a third of the wage gap.

Choice of occupation also plays an important role in earnings. While feminists suggest that women are coerced into lower-paying job sectors, most women know that something else is often at work. Women gravitate toward jobs with fewer risks, more comfortable conditions, regular hours, more personal fulfillment and greater flexibility. Simply put, many women—not all, but enough to have a big impact on the statistics—are willing to trade higher pay for other desirable job characteristics.

Men, by contrast, often take on jobs that involve physical labor, outdoor work, overnight shifts and dangerous conditions (which is also why men suffer the overwhelming majority of injuries and deaths at the workplace). They put up with these unpleasant factors so that they can earn more.

Recent studies have shown that the wage gap shrinks—or even reverses—when relevant factors are taken into account and comparisons are made between men and women in similar circumstances. In a 2010 study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30, the research firm Reach Advisors found that women earned an average of 8% more than their male counterparts. Given that women are outpacing men in educational attainment, and that our economy is increasingly geared toward knowledge-based jobs, it makes sense that women’s earnings are going up compared to men’s.

My favorite book on feminism, economics and marriage is Carrie Lukas’ “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex and Feminism“. If you don’t have the book, then please go out and buy one for you, and one for a young, unmarried woman in your life. Books like this one are for women who are serious about making their marriages last. And men can read them, too – so that we’ll know what to look for in women. There is nothing more attractive to a marriage-minded man than a fiscally conservative woman.

Here’s an interview of Carrie Lukas conducted by famous men’s rights activist Bernard Chapin. The next time you see men reading the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, take a closer look. On the inside of that magazine we are often concealing a copy of Carrie Lukas’ book. When Carrie Lukas talks about economics and policy, men think about marriage.

2 thoughts on “Carrie Lukas does the math on the male-female pay gap”

  1. Carrie Lukas didn’t do the same math that other analysts are doing on this issue. The thing to measure isn’t pay rates between men and women in different career paths, but men and women of similar age, educational background and experience doing the same jobs. When you control for these factors, the only explainable difference in wages comes down to gender because it’s the only measure on which men and women aren’t the same. And when you do this, you see men out earning women.

    Forbes Magazine has had several articles on this lately. One of the pieces of research concerned temporary workers. They were chosen to control for such factors as greater company experience (a reason to pay more). The women doing the same jobs as men on a temporary basis were paid less.

    The only reason for that was their gender.

    It is as wrong to say that this type of discrimination is rampant as it is to say that it doesn’t exist. It does. That is, by the way, is why 1.5 million female Walmart employees have just joined in a class action suit against the company. We’ll see how this works out for Walmart in the court system. A lot of data, I’m sure, will show whether gender was at the root of why so many women were paid less than men of equal (or even lesser) experience.


  2. PS: the findings by Reach Advisors that single, childless women between 22 and 30 are out-earning men by 8% is tied to the fact that women in this group are 1.5 times more likely to have a college education. However, the analysis goes on to say that women still earn 80% of what men do and that women’s gains in the single, childless 22-30 category is a separate issue from older women earning less than men when their experience levels and jobs are the same. Gains in one segment do not negate a lack of progress in another.


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