Fake news about the “wage gap”, and the real gender gap

by Fabius Maximus

Summary: Models show that women are underpaid vs. men. But key factors are ignored in their calculations. But there is a serious gender gap in the work world. Many jobs done by men have far higher fatality rates, result in physical exhaustion by their late 50s, and have harsh working conditions. Will the government narrow that gap?

She would be a great roofer, which would narrow the pay gap.

Woman protesting for gender pay equality
Photo 158215451 © Alinabuzunova – Dreamstime.

It is that time of year again, with a flood of articles about the gender wage gap. My favorite is the World Economic Council’s terrifying calcuation that “At current rates of progress, it may take another 202 years to close the economic gender gap globally.” Of course, it’s about the children: “Young Girls Are Confused And Angry About Gender Pay Gap.” These assume that anything not accounted for by their models is discrimination.

The Department of Labor’s Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries report points to one of the real gender gaps. Women worked 44% of the total hours of paid civilian work and had a fatal work injury rate of 0.6 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. Men worked 56% of the hours and had a death rate of 5.7  – almost 10x higher than women’s.

The real gender gap: fatal work injuries and hours worked in 2017.

Death by gender from the 2017 CFOI

See the fatality rate for the most dangerous civilian occupations per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. How many of these consist predominately of men?

99.8 – Fishers and related fishing workers.
84.3 – Logging workers.
48.6 – Aircraft pilots and flight engineers.
45.2 – Roofers.
35.0 – Refuse and recyclable material collectors.
33.4 – Structural iron and steelworkers.
26.8 – Driver/sales workers and truck drivers.
24.0 – Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers.
21.0 – First-line supervisors of landscaping, lawn service, and groundskeeping workers.
18.7 – Electrical power-line installers and repairers.
15.5 – Grounds maintenance workers.
12.9 – Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction.
The average for all workers is 3.5. The rate for protective services (police and firefighters) is 7.7.

These jobs pay a premium over safe indoors work of equivalent education. Do academics’ models calculate what is an adequate premiums for the extra danger?

Also, many jobs in male-dominated jobs wear away the bodies of workers. By age 60 many of these men are worn out, unlike most workers in climate-controlled offices. Do academics’ models calculate an adequate premium for their shorter working lives and harsh working conditions?

The commonly used models consider differences between men and women in hours worked, time taken off for children, early retirement, and education. Few consider the other important factors. The widespread use of too-simplistic models – bogus but politically useful – is a widespread and growth problem. It one of today’s major sources of fake news. That is why we are misinformed about so many important issues.