The Heritage Foundation has a post up about it.
When a questioner at Tuesday’s presidential debate stated that women make only 72 cents for every dollar that men make, both President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney agreed. Not so fast. This figure is highly misleading.
The statistic comes from a Census Bureau report (see figure 2 here) comparing the median earnings of men and women in full-time jobs. However, many factors affect pay—e.g., occupational choice, education, experience, and hours of work. Doctors make more than store clerks, no matter their gender. Employees who work longer hours tend to make more, too.
The Census report ignores all such factors. So it can say nothing about whether men and women with the same level of job performance make the same amount.
Women are more likely than men to work in industries with more flexible schedules. Women are also more likely to spend time outside the labor force to care for children. These choices have benefits, but they also reduce pay—for both men and women. When economists control for such factors, they find the gender gap largely disappears.
A 2009 study commissioned by the Department of Labor found that after controlling for occupation, experience, and other choices, women earn 95 percent as much as men do. In 2005, June O’Neil, the former director of the Congressional Budget Office, found that “There is no gender gap in wages among men and women with similar family roles.” Different choices—not discrimination—account for different employment and wage outcomes.
For the same reason, the recession has hit men harder than it has women. Since the recession, net employment for men has fallen by over 3 million jobs. Female employment has fallen by less than half that amount. Put another way, the male unemployment rate is currently 0.5 percentage points higher than the female unemployment rate.
Hans Bader from the Competitive Enterprise Institute explains more.
Excerpt: (links removed)
As The Washington Post‘s Glenn Kessler notes, government data shows women work fewer hours than men, which explains much of the apparent pay gap: “since women in general work fewer hours than men in a year, the statistics used by the White House may be less reliable for examining the key focus of the legislation — wage discrimination.” I discuss some other unfounded claims made in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act at this link.
As Steve Tobak noted at CBS News,
Men are far more likely to choose careers that are more dangerous, so they naturally pay more. Top 10 most dangerous jobs (from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics): Fishers, loggers, aircraft pilots, farmers and ranchers, roofers, iron and steel workers, refuse and recyclable material collectors, industrial machinery installation and repair, truck drivers, construction laborers. They’re all male-dominated jobs. . .Men are far more likely to take work in uncomfortable, isolated and undesirable locations that pay more. Men work longer hours than women do. The average fulltime working man works six hours per week or 15 percent longer than the average fulltime working woman.
A popular article by Carrie Lukas in the Wall Street Journal agrees.
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.
[…]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.
Moreover, if there is a pay gap, it certainly is not in our major cities, as the leftist New York Times explains.
Young women in New York and several of the nation’s other largest cities who work full time have forged ahead of men in wages, according to an analysis of recent census data.
The shift has occurred in New York since 2000 and even earlier in Los Angeles, Dallas and a few other cities.
Economists consider it striking because the wage gap between men and women nationally has narrowed more slowly and has even widened in recent years among one part of that group: college-educated women in their 20s. But in New York, young college-educated women’s wages as a percentage of men’s rose slightly between 2000 and 2005.
[…][The study] shows that women of all educational levels from 21 to 30 living in New York City and working full time made 117 percent of men’s wages, and even more in Dallas, 120 percent. Nationwide, that group of women made much less: 89 percent of the average full-time pay for men.
Just why young women at all educational levels in New York and other big cities have fared better than their peers elsewhere is a matter of some debate. But a major reason, experts say, is that women have been graduating from college in larger numbers than men, and that many of those women seem to be gravitating toward major urban areas.
When women make different choices about education and labor that are more like what men choose, they earn just as much or more than men.