The Gender Pay Gap Is About Familial Circumstances, Not Discrimination Or Even Gender


We see a great deal of huffery and puffery about the gender pay gap. Usually attached the the claim that this shows how misogynist and discriminatory modern life is. This is rather less so than those whining are willing to admit.

Now, it is true that we’ve a gender divided society. It’s not compulsory but it is still a general enough rule that it is women who are primary carers for the children in a household. Maybe it shouldn’t be and all that but it is. And any gender pay gap is largely explained by it being primary child carers who suffer from it. That this largely maps over gender might be true but it’s not gender itself which is the cause.

As Mark Perry points out to us:

Details in BLS report suggest that most of the gender earnings gap is explained by age, marital status, children, hours worked

And his conclusion:

When the BLS reports that women working full-time in 2017 earned 81.8% of what men earned working full-time, that is very much different from saying that women earned 81.8% of what men earned for doing exactly the same work while working the exact same number of hours in the same occupation, with exactly the same educational background and exactly the same years of continuous, uninterrupted work experience. As shown above, once we start controlling individually for the many relevant factors that affect earnings, e.g. hours worked, age, marital status, and having children, most of the raw earnings differential disappears. In a more comprehensive study that controlled for all of the relevant variables simultaneously, we would likely find that those variables would account for nearly 100% of the unadjusted, raw earnings differential of 18.2% for women’s earnings compared to men as reported by the BLS. Discrimination, to the extent that it does exist, would likely account for a very small portion of the raw 18.1% gender earnings gap.

I would add in there the fact that fathers tend to make more than non-fathers – yes, after adjusting for age etc. There seems to be something in humans about the increased impact of that caring/providing divide brought on by the having of offspring.

OK, but that’s going to convince no one. Which is where we should suggest further research. We’ve enough single sex couples out there having and raising children now. Enough that we can study and get some results from a reasonable number of such. We’d also expect – hey, we could even check this sorta stuff – that one or other would be primary child carer. So, examine pay gaps among parents in single sex families and note primary or not child carer. My best guess is that we’ll see the same sorts of gaps we see in the general population and for the same sort of reasons.

For we’d expect the changes in behaviour which come from those familial roles to be the same, independent of gender. We could even test another area, house husbands. And, of coure, if they are the same those gaps then we’ve just proven that it’s not actually about gender, haven’t we?

Our only real concern here is that we cannot think of anyone at all who would fund such a study. Really not PC, is it?