Tuesday, May 31, 2016

the pay gap for higher-educated women

There are many frustrating aspects of the popular/political version of the (gender) "pay gap" discussion:

In particular, it takes a complex social phenomenon and ignores all of the variables, before confidently drawing ignorant and inflammatory inferences.

But it also distracts from smaller, interesting aspects of the question that *are* real and might deserve some market or policy attention.

For example, this WSJ article discusses the flip in the pay gap between education levels for women. In 1980, women with college degrees were closest to men (ignoring all other variables) with less than HS further away. Now, it's reversed.

As a specific example, researchers found that men and women earned the same immediately after earning MBAs from the U. of Chicago. But ten years later, women only earned 57% (*far worse* than the average 'pay gap')! The primary cause: "Women became mothers, interrupted their careers and eschewed lengthy hours that generated higher paychecks." Claudia Goldin: "These particular occupations are not very forgiving of taking time off and raising kids."

There's also an interesting literature on differences in willingness/ability to bargain by gender I suspect that's part of the mystery here, but the article does not discuss it.


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