Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Equal Pay for Unequal Work

June O'Neill, a professor of economics for Baruch College, writes a critique of the Paycheck Fairness Act for The Wall Street Journal. This act, which has passed the House and is being considered in the Senate, attempts to legislate equal pay for men and women, regardless of whether their contributions to the firm are equal.

The bill's sponsors base its need on a claim that women earn only 77% of what men earn. O'Neill finds they aren't comparing equally job-committed individuals, since "full-time men work 8%-10% more hours per week than full-time women." Then she says some obvious things that are not at all politically correct, for example:
The gender gap shrinks to between 8% and 0% when the study incorporates measures such as work experience, career breaks and part-time work.
The most important source of the gender wage gap is that women assume greater responsibility for child-rearing than men.
Women often seek flexible work schedules, less stressful work environments, and other conditions compatible with meeting the demands of family responsibilities. Those come at a price—namely, lower wages.
In addition to child-rearing, I'd guess women take more responsibility for the care of elderly relatives, too. And for all of these reasons a number of women are less available for business travel, often a job requirement.

Just sayin'.