…from Time seems to have real legs.
Some women earn more money than some men. There, I said it.
My sleepy little post on a nearly identical story in July generated an impressive 80 hits in the week after the Time story came out (you have to realize the scale I’m on, here, reader-wise). Now a very cogent explanation from the economist Heather Boushey on Slate is helping carry the clarification load (though we’re getting crushed by the Time story, which has a 6-to-1 Facebook-“like” ratio on Boushey’s post).
Her explanation is simple and true: the “study” reported by Time — an unpublished claim by an outfit that provides “game-changing insight” on “emerging shifts in the consumer landscape” — simply found that young, unmarried, childless women in most metro areas earn more than men. The reason is that, among that population, women are substantially more likely to have completed college.
The education gap is important, though not news. The earnings result is widely misinterpreted — or mis-promoted, in Time‘s case — to say something about employer discrimination, which is doesn’t, just like the overall gender gap in earnings is often misinterpreted as a measure of employer discrimination. In fact, the situation for young men is even worse than all that, because the data being used for these studies excludes people (men) in prison, who have both low education and low earnings.
Among young adults who have completed college, and are working full-time and year-round, women make 80.7% of men’s earnings at the median. I’m not saying that is how much employer discrimination there is — the gap includes discrimination in hiring, promotion, and wage setting, as well as women’s family status, and occupational “choices”/choices, among other factors.
Here’s that breakdown again in detail:
Source: My graph from March 2009 Census data. The Black dots show location of distribution midpoints (50th percentile).