Gender wage gap, 2012 edition

Gender inequality stagnation continues apace.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the wage report for 2012, which shows women’s earnings relative to men’s falling back to the 2005 level. The gender breakdown is available here (the content at that link changes when new data come out), and the historical series from 1979 to 2011 is available here.

The usually-reported number is the median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers. These are the gender ratios (women’s earnings divided by men’s):

gender earnings gap 2012


Follow the gender inequality tag for updates and previous posts.

13 thoughts on “Gender wage gap, 2012 edition

  1. Of course this, as usual leaves out things like the following (from the latest BLS American Time Use Survey):

    On the days that they worked, employed men worked 47 minutes more than employed women. This difference partly reflects women’s greater likelihood of working part time. However, even among full-time workers (those usually working 35 hours or more per week), men worked longer than women–8.3 hours compared with 7.8 hours.

    Ditto men working, on average, much riskier jobs – 92% of 2011 workplace fatalities were male (with that same slide reporting that 57% of hours of employment were worked by men – something that might lead you to expect that it might not be unreasonable to have an even larger wage gap than above).


    1. There are lots of reasons men make more. They were all “left out,” since this post had none of them. On full-time men spending 0.5 more hours per day at work at work, we might need to consider that men spend a lot more time on porn sites while at work, maybe twice as much (, or maybe only 50% more (


      1. men spend a lot more time on porn sites while at work,

        Their female counterparts spend that time watching reruns of their favorite soaps, if the network log files are to be believed.


    2. Dangerous jobs don’t necessarily pay well, though.

      Consider the wage differential between a firefighter and a network administrator. The firefighter’s job is much more dangerous. The network admin makes more money.

      I strongly suspect that if you compare men of equivalent educational levels to women, what you’ll find is that the danger bonus is pretty much entirely confined to the lower half of the bell… which might push up the overall male average some, but there will be no significant danger bonus applying to men or women at the higher educational levels.

      Men working 1/8th more than women do might reasonably account for a 1/8th differential in average pay… not a 1/4th differential. Also, studies have shown that actual *output* doesn’t vary between men adn women to nearly that degree. Men are free to put in more “face time”, spend more time in the office, because they’re not generally tasked with child care… but evidence suggests that people who spend more time at work, spend more time goofing off at work. Not necessarily surfing porn, but playing online games, balancing the checkbook, chatting with co-workers, surfing Reddit… both sexes goof off, but both sexes feel pressure to get more done at work when they know they have a hard limit and they can’t stay late. And women are more often in the position of not being able to stay late. The studies that show that men work more actually say that men spend more time at work, which is not the same thing.

      And a thing to consider is that while it’s true that the workplace is more dangerous if you’re a man… life itself is more dangerous if you’re a man, when you’re talking about sudden unexpected death. Men die more often of accidents, suicides, and homicides (80% of murder victims are men). Some of those workplace fatalities weren’t men working more dangerous jobs, but men doing more dangerous things at their jobs, because men overall take more risks. (Men drive 75% more than women and suffer 300% more fatal accidents per miles driven, for example.) (I recall a story from the Darwin Awards about a man who used to demonstrate how strong the glass windows his company sold were by throwing himself at the full-wall-size-window in one of the upper floors of their skyscraper headquarters… until one day the glass broke and he fell to his death. That was a risk voluntarily taken; the company didn’t require him to do that, and presumably other salespeople, some of whom were probably female, didn’t do that.) To get an idea of how much the danger in the workplace is imposed on men by the requirements of the job, versus how much is taken on voluntarily by men behaving in a risky way, we’d probably need to crosstab the workplace fatalities against cause of death and type of job (a truck driver dying in a car accident was a man in a risky job; a consultant dying in a car accident on his way to a client’s office was a man who had an accident that happened to occur during his workday, but his job wasn’t particularly risky, he was just unlucky.)


  2. This is very helpful as usual Philip, thanks. One question, can you explain the Asian differential? If I understand this, Asian American FT women are making 0.73 per dollar of Asian american men, and are making 0.88 per dollar of white men? This seems counterintuitive to the rest of the graph which follows a consistent intersectionality dynamic where The gender gap within race would be smaller than the gap between minority women and white males.


      1. ah of course! Thanks for that important reminder. And we also know that there are some different income gaps between Asian ethnic groups, so if we had large enough data we could determine within-ethnic gender differences as well as between Asian-ethnic women and white men. Such data are not available right?


  3. Plus the “wage gap” figure only counts people employed full-time. It certainly doesn’t cont the 1 in 72 men who are in prison or the majority of homeless, who are men or ex-cons who can’t get jobs. Easy to make men look like they are on top if you leave out lots of men.


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