Warren Farrell’s book Why Men Earn More and What Women Can Do About It is a useful resource on the topic – a topic that surfaces most prominently on the eve of presidential elections only to disappear again afterwards. Shortly before the election, BBC America and MSNBC both ran stories on the wage gap on the same day, apropos nothing at all, seemingly as a conspiracy-theory-inducing coordinated action. The BBC made a special point of saying “for exactly the same jobs.” That is not remotely true. While individual instances of unfairness may be found, the 20% difference is due to factors like different occupational choices, choices of college majors, continuity of service, willingness to relocate, men who work full-time working more hours than women who work full-time, men commuting twice as far as women on average, and most particularly, women taking time off to raise children. Never married childless women earn more than never married men on average. Thomas Sowell points out that comparing “single” men and women is misleading because it includes divorced women who may have worked part-time or not at all while their children were young.
Last semester I had two students who insisted that the wage gap was the result of a pay differential within exactly the same jobs. When they hear such things on the supposedly reputable BBC and from politicians like Hillary Clinton it understandably sounds improbable that what they are hearing is a lie. One of the students sent some statistics to support her case which actually did no such thing.
The following is a summary of key arguments in Farrell’s book – Why Men Earn More published at The Brussels Journal, a topic Farrell started to explore when he wondered why employers would ever hire men if they could hire women to do the same job for 20% less.