One of the best explanations of the gender-wage gap. Thank you.

You note that for "most women, having a child is the economic equivalent of being hit by a meteorite. For most men, it barely makes a dent." You also say that men's income often goes up but don't say why. It suspect that men, as they become fathers, they take on more responsibility for making ends meet in the family by working overtime and seeking new more demanding jobs. Men are providers. Rather than denigrating men for making more, we should honor their commitment to their families and making an effort to earn more income.

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It is fascinating how we measure each other’s societal worth based on income.

Men get sent to fight wars.

Men are dispatched into all the high-risk fields with the greatest mortality rates.

Men who perform working class jobs are increasingly viewed with disgust by the elite classes, and the elite class now identifies self-consciously as Democrats.

Women earn BAs at a higher degree than men, yet continue to yearn to be mothers.

Women are the only humans who can bring forth human life.

And women are unhappy: with their opportunity to work more, their pursuit of sexual freedom, and their increased desirability among employers.

I think I have just laid out the justification for most of Mr. Reeves’ research in an impolitic voice.

We are making a mash of our culture. Why? Because, as Rob Henderson so eloquently argues, the elite class pushes beliefs that do no scale well across a host of strata.

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May 19·edited May 19

I found the results to an online survey regarding Americans' views on the gender pay gap from Survey Monkey (Mar. 2019). It seems to fit the article you were describing almost perfectly (couldn't find any grouping of the data by edu. level).


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There’s no job I want other than to raise my little kids. You could offer me or my husband a million dollars a year to swap roles, and my husband and I would still keep our lives the way we have it. Just wanted to say that, because this obsession over the closing the wage gap is so messed up to me.

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But Leftists claim that "Gender" is just a "Social Construct"!

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Years ago, I met a very successful female CEO with young children. Her husband also had a high-level job. She said they had a "household manager" who did (nearly) all things a corporate wife would do, in addition to employing a nanny. It was very expensive, she said, and worth every dollar.

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What we’re really missing are stats for the living standard of various demographic groups.

It’s always asserted that women has it worse because they earn less. That may not be the case. If women have sources of income that are unavailable for men, it may well hint at the core reason for women earning less; they get their funding elswhere.

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Yes, but. Women know this but just as some believe a woman can have a penis, they think all differences between the sexes should be erased through social engineering, technology and behavioural change. Other women (us TERFS, conservatives and materialists) think it’s a flawed question and a society that requires two incomes to meet the living standard previously covered by one is a con, and a Ponzi scheme underpinned by female labour in the developing world. It’s a problem of philosophy, not data.

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How much of the gap among mothers is due to personal choice? How often do mothers choose to spend less time advancing their career goals after giving birth? And how much supplemental income do family courts award mothers? I have been going through a divorce for the last three years and I have had to spend over $300K in attorney fees just to be a part of my son's life. The bias against fathers in family courts is astounding and as a society we simply ignore the inequities despite the abundance of crime associated with fatherlessness. Let's give fathers equal footing in Family Court and then revisit the gender pay gap.

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Economist Claudia Godin's recent book "Career and Family" has a good explainer of this also. When you look at college graduates after they have just left school, men and women earn pretty much the same (sometimes women even outearning men). This changes about a decade after college when people start having children and women overwhelmingly are the ones who put their careers on hold to be the primary care taker. The husband's usually pick up more hours at work and by the time the woman is ready to go back to work, it's hard to catch up.

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Thanks for the wage distribution analysis...been looking for such a thing. I wish we would look beyond the promotion gap fight, since only 6% of jobs are management. We need to create ways to raise wages for all above the rate of inflation without asking people to take on more responsibility. The employee’s value, like a compound interest investment, should acquire decent pay raises without a management cap. The latter is where women who have children get screwed...Unless they have enough money from two salaries to nanny up...

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For the last thirty years I've been a keen observer of career / parenting choices amongst men and women, especially when one party is very career focussed.

This isn't 'research' (just observations and questions), but I've found the answers to the following question are significantly different.

How many highly focused, career driven senior male 'top jobbers' with children, have a wife / partner at whose work outside the home is secondary or non existent and they're the primary caregiver for the children?

How many highly focused, career driven senior female 'top jobbers' with children, have a husband / partner at whose work outside the home is secondary or non existent and they're the primary caregiver for the children?

I've asked this question of stay at home mums, top medics, lawyers, business people and the answers are often very similar.

Nearly all of the career driven senior male 'top jobbers' with children, have a wife / partner at whose work outside the home is secondary or non existent and is the primary caregiver for the children.

Very few of the highly focused, career driven senior female 'top jobbers' with children, have a husband / partner at whose work outside the home is secondary or non existent and is the primary caregiver for the children.

We need more men who're happy to be out earned, out careered and contented to be stay at home parents and more women happy to marry them.

For full disclosure 21 years ago I made the choice to put business on the back books and swap to spending as much time as possible with my daughter in her childhood years.

My pay gap is huge and it has been the best decision of my life.

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Not discussed here are two linked issues.

The first is whether the gender pay gap is coerced or the manifestation of a legitimate preference. The second is the compensating transfers of income from men to women and children.

Its an obvious implication that figures showing men work more having had children, point to them operating in the income provider role. So that extra income is being earned to meet additional demands for the benefit of the mother and child. This transfer at least partly compensates the mother for her income loss.

Do mothers want to work more, or are they coerced by their partners, their employers or the labour market into the role of primary carer and so moving, to some extent, to part time work? Do fathers want more a more significant caring role but are coerced by economic necessities? It might well be said that the optimal parenting arrangement is both parents working to some extent part time and thereby both having sufficient time to have meaningful work AND full engagement with their children. Why is that not the predominant arrangement?

Income demands constrain that choice. Very few families can meet their living standard expectations on the equivalent of a single income. The labour market is such that many parents must work as much as they can within the constraints of providing care.

Parents role play. Its a biological effect that new mothers tend to assert themselves as primary carers. The fathers role is commonly consequential, as earner and secondary carer. Difficult as those roles often are, they are positions which quickly become entrenched and resistant to change.

Clearly some mothers would want to work more if there were more affordable day care. But which choice here is coerced, to work or to care for your child? The decision to work full time and place a child in long hours of day care may be coerced by insufficient family income. It is easy to see that part time work will often be an optimal choice for those families whose overall family income is enough and it will be the established primary carer who will have the benefit of that optimisation.

The contemporary gender pay gap is mainly a consequence of parenting arrangements that are easily recognisable. But the effect of time constraints in single parenthood (families that are overwhelmingly mother led) forcing the parent into part time work at best, will also be significant.

Families with mother and father together are typically better off than single parent families due to the sharing of the fathers surplus earnings. This transfer is strangely omitted from the narrative, except when non payment is the problem.

What then is behind this focus on equality of paid work in preference to spending time caring for your child?

Is there as RR hints, a misunderstanding that the pay gap indicates pay discrimination? Is it as Mary Harrington has written, the erasure of motherhood by some feminist ideologies. Is it an objection to the perceived economic dependency of a mother on her partner (dependency could also be called support - do mothers in fact reject or welcome that support? ) Or is it yet another manifestation of the long held suspicion voiced in many quarters that modern free market capitalist countries are not very child friendly?

It is far from clear that within the innumerable constraints on life that parenting imposes, and there are of course more the more children you have, couples are doing anything other than optimising their preferences. In democratic societies there should be an open discussion about what change we want rather than a tendentious and misleading use of statistics that generate a false narrative of pay discrimination.

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The United States has yet to figure out that CARE -- caring for children, caring for elderly, caring for people with disabilities -- has value.

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Richard, The chart on wages shows women clustering at the low end wage-wise. Yes, most men also are earning low end. You need a different chart to show that women are earning 40% more than the male median earner. Thanks for using these charts instead of single data points.

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Men and women have different access to the base of Maslow’s hierachy of needs: Physiological needs herewithin “The need for reproduction”.

A man needs to convince a woman to have children with him to fulfil this basic need. Thus, men must provide what women wants in competition with other men. If women wants men “who brings something to the table”, men must comply.

Men complies by taking on dangerous or strenuous jobs with high fatality rates or unpleasant working conditions. Not because they are masochists but because that’s how they can get something to show for themselves.

So, with Darwin’s knife at their throat, is it suprising that men always make the choices leading to higher pay?

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