Friday, July 13, 2018

Explaining the Gender Pay Gap

If you are anguished about the gender pay gap, about the fact that women earn less than men for doing the same job, fear not. A new study has explained one aspect of it.

The study, from the University of Chicago, has found that in Denmark—what would we do without Denmark?—mothers of young children are less productive on the job. The pay differential corresponds to the productivity differential.

The Wall Street Journal reports the findings:

For example, mothers between 30 and 32 years old were about 87% as productive as similar childless men, the University of Chicago study found. Those moms earned 85% of the wage of the men without kids. Similar gaps in wages and productivity occurred for mothers between ages 24 and 35.

And yet, life is never as just as we would like. Women without children are effectively just as productive as male workers who are not mothers. And yet, these women are paid less than their male counterparts. Their salaries are roughly the same as those of women who are mothers:

Women without children, on the other hand, appear to be penalized for the disparities in productivity. Women without children between 30 and 32 years old were 101% as productive as similar men, but were paid 89% of the wage.

“The natural explanation is that employers think you’re going to become a mother, so they pay you less in anticipation,” said the study’s author, Yana Gallen, an economist at the university’s Harris School of Public Policy.

Next, the authors tried valiantly to understand why young mothers were less productive than their male counterparts. This ought not to be especially confounding, but apparently it now is:

The study didn’t directly determine why mothers were less productive or why fathers were more productive. Dr. Gallen said a likely factor is men and women without children may work more hours than they officially record, which young working mothers juggling household duties may not do as often. The study said another possible cause could be discrimination on the part of customers, who prefer to do business with men.

Since women have other obligations, they are likely to work fewer hours per day:

The 2017 American Time Use Survey showed men employed full-time worked an average of 8.35 hours on the days they worked. Women employed full-time worked 7.88 hours.

And also:

“A mother’s attention is not always entirely at work,” said St. Louis Fed economist Christian Zimmermann, one of the authors of the 2014 study. For example, he said, mothers may be under more pressure than fathers to not stay late to finish an assignment in order to pick up a child from day care.

It’s all about who is raising children,  point that feminists are trying to undermine:

If raising children still falls disproportionately on mothers, fathers have greater ability to work more hours and pursue jobs in higher-paying, more productive fields—and some may be motivated by supporting their families to be more productive.

The researchers imagine that this disparity will be overcome once women have access to better childcare. They should read Erica Komisar’s article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday—see my blog post about it yesterday— which explains that children who are dumped in day care do not fare as well as they would if they were receiving good maternal care.


trigger warning said...

IMO, the Scandinavians should stop having children entirely. A neo-malthusian policy along those lines would simultaneously solve a thorny, persistent gender politics problem and save millions spent on studies designed to "investigate" gender/workplace "issues". Ultimately, such a policy would provide global relief from of a seemingly limitless cataract of virtue signaling and public moral preening.

Anonymous said...

Imagine that... women do more childrearing. The madness of it all.

Sam L. said...

tw, that would also make room for all those middle-eastern immigrants.

David Foster said...

Productivity, measured how? The reference to the Danish study doesn't really explain how they measured it. It's not always easy even for a direct manufacturing worker--in an assembly-line operation, everyone's output is paced by the speed of the line--and it's even harder if you're talking about graphics artists or financial analysts or programmers or electrical engineers.

David Foster said...

Also: the whole notion of "per-hour" has become increasingly problematic. A lot fewer people are punching timeclocks. A high % of the 'professional' employees, financial analysts, engineers, and managers of all types, do a lot of work and thinking at home, while driving, etc...and, conversely, they take time when formally at work to take care of personal things--and appropriately so, in many cases, I would say.

I'm pretty sure I've even seen a BLS analysis of per-hour compensation which made the ridiculous assumption that CEOs work a 40-hour week.