Today (April 9th) is “Equal Pay Day,” which represents how far into 2013 the average female worker would have to continue working to earn what the average male worker earned in 2012. Equal Pay Day is based on the assumption that women earned 23% less on average than men last year, so they must work an additional three months, one week, and one day this year to make up for the “wage gap.”
But comparing average wages by gender is statistically meaningless because that comparison violates the most basic statistical principle that you can only compare two groups if you “hold everything else constant.” In the case of comparing wages by gender, you have to control for all of the other relevant variables that affect income: hours worked, education, years of continuous work experience without interruption, marital status, number of children, age, industry, workplace conditions, and occupational risk of death or injury, etc. To say that women on average make 23% less than men without controlling for any variable except gender is statistically meaningless, i.e. it’s an “apples to oranges” comparison.
As you control for more and more of the relevant variables that affect earnings so that you can make a true “apples to apples” comparison of wages, the male-female wage gap starts to narrow significantly and often completely disappears (or actually reverses) as both Andrew Biggs and June O’Neill point out today on the AEIdeas blog.
For example, a labor market study in 2010 actually found statistical evidence of a reverse gender pay gap in favor of women. That’s right. James Chung of Reach Advisors spent more than a year analyzing wage data from the Census Bureau and found that in America’s largest cities, single, childless women under the age of 30 earned 8% more on average than their male counterparts (see Time Magazine article here). In some cities like Atlanta, the wage premium in favor of women was as high as 21% (see table below).
Inspired by NCPE’s “Equal Pay Day” and in recognition of these recent findings that young, single, childless men in America’s largest cities make only 92 cents for every dollar earned by young, single women, I hereby propose the creation of a new “Equal Pay Day for Young, Single Men.” Based on some of the city-specific wage premiums in favor of young, single, childless women, the table above shows the “Equal Pay Day for Young Single Men” in selected US cities.
For example, the average young, single male worker in Atlanta had to continue working almost three additional months, until March 21, this year to earn the same income as the average female in his peer group earned last year in 2012. For all of the cities in the study, the average “Equal Pay Day for Young, Single Men” was February 1, meaning that young, single, childless men had to continue working for an extra month to make up for the 8% male wage gap.
Hopefully, the creation of the “Equal Pay Day for Young, Single Men” will bring some public awareness to the fact that young, single, childless men now earn less on average than their female counterparts in America’s large cities. Because of the 8% gender pay gap favoring women, thousands, if not millions, of young, single men had to work an extra month or more this year just to catch up to the income that their higher-paid female counterparts earned last year. On “Equal Pay Day for Young, Single Men,” we recognize this injustice by marking how far into a new year men have to work just to make what women did in the previous year.