We've been saying that there isn't a gender pay gap. Instead, there are life choices which lead to different incomes. Who makes what choices seemingly influenced by gender, or something closely associated with it, leading to those different incomes on average.
Which is something that even the New York Times now seems to be admitting:
The main reason for this pay gap seems to be the same in both places: Children hurt mothers’ careers. This is, in large part, because women spend more time on child rearing than men do, whether by choice or not.
The latest research paper to make this point is here:
The arrival of children creates a gender gap in earnings of around 20% in the long run, driven in roughly equal proportions by labor force participation, hours of work, and wage rates. Underlying these “child penalties”, we find clear dynamic impacts on occupation, promotion to manager, sector, and the family friendliness of the firm for women relative to men. Based on a dynamic decomposition framework, we show that the fraction of gender inequality caused by child penalties has increased dramatically over time, from about 40% in 1980 to about 80% in 2013.
We've also the report from the IFS:
The stark difference in pay according to gender comes as a consequence of the poorer levels of pay progression open to part-time workers – with women making up the vast majority of people taking temporary jobs, as they look to find more flexible working arrangements after having children. As a result, they miss out on earnings growth associated with staying in a permanent job.
That full report is here.
There are lots of reasons for the scale and persistence of this gap, but new work, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that one important factor is that mothers spend less time in paid work, and more time working part-time, than do fathers. As a result, they miss out on earnings growth associated with more experience.
People who make different choices about work make different amounts of money. People who go to university tend to make more than those who don't. People who have less experience tend to make less than those with more. We cannot say that we are worried by these differences.
But this does lead to a rather large question. As we can see, the difference in average income between men and women seems to be driven by different average choices being made. So, what should we, or even what can be, done about this? Anyone want to live in a society where choices don't lead to differences?