Equal Work for Equal Pay?
It is commonly claimed that women on average earn less than men. For example, The Expert Witness Newsletter Spring 2002 says that, “In 1967, womenâ€™s earnings were approximately 58 percent of menâ€™s earnings. By 1997, womenâ€™s earnings were approximately 73 percent of menâ€™s earnings.”
Feminists commonly blame these raw statistics on “male control” and “oppression of females”, without looking at legitimate economic reasons for the gap – especially any differences in female behavior that might help explain the gap.
Economists typically note that much of the remaining wage gap between the groups is explained by the career choices of women who as a group disproportionately take time off for child rearing, putting them behind men of the same age in their career.
Turns out there may be another explanation. Women may be getting lower pay because the jobs they are doing aren’t equal work (on average):
The overwhelming majority of dangerous jobs are held by men, who accounted for 93 percent of all workplace fatalities last year while comprising 54 percent of the overall workforce.
What are these dangerous “male dominated” jobs? Things like commercial fishing, truck driving, farming, traveling sales, ranching. More danger should, everything else equal, mean higher pay than safer jobs with similar skill levels. (Of course, some men seek dangerous jobs precisely because of the challenge and that probably helps lower the minimum wage rate where men will accept those positions, compared to women.)
The irony is that to the extent the wage gap is driven by men taking more dangerous jobs that pay more, the reason men are in those jobs may be that they set a lower price on their own lives than women. Women, as a group, choose the lower paying jobs since the more dangerous jobs don’t pay enough for them to accept the risk.