Tag Archives: hanna rosin

When women earn more but wives earn less (Mundy/Rosin edition)

We have been told many times now that in U.S. metropolitan areas, among 22-30 year-olds who have no children, have never been married, and work full-time and year-round, women’s median income is higher than men’s.

One implication both Hanna Rosin and Liza Mundy draw from this is that, when these people get married, there will be more marriages in which women are the higher earners.

I previously showed that women’s advantage in this group is partly the result of its odd race/ethnic composition — with a lot of White women and Latino men especially — reiterating  that men outearn women at all ages and all education levels.

But what if that group really was the marriage market, with more and more women looking down the economic ladder at the men they’re dating? Would we have more egalitarian married couples? Maybe, but not necessarily.

Atlanta is a good place to start, since, according to Liza Mundy’s book The Richer Sex, it’s the place where women’s advantage is greatest:

Of all the major cities where young women outearn young men, Atlanta is number one. Well do these [high-income women she’s interviewing] know the accuracy of that statistic. “I never had a boyfriend who made more than me,” says one of them.

Let’s look at this case, starting with a hypothetical income distribution of men and women:

These women have it made, with a median income $2,000 greater than men’s. Now let’s imagine that 80% of them get married — which is 8 marriages involving 16 people. Look how egalitarian the couples will be:

Whoops. Turns out men and women don’t get married randomly. If all men decide to marry women with lower incomes, they can — they just have to squeeze out the poorest two men and ignore the two richest women. Or, maybe it’s that the richest two women opt out of marriage, and the rest of the women taking advantage of the chance to marry up, ignoring the two poorest men. Either way, there’s a $2,000 male advantage in every couple, and the median incomes are now reversed, with married men having a $2,000 advantage, $41,000 to $39,000.

Is this what’s happening in Atlanta? Pretty close, I think.

Using the 2008-2010 American Community Survey (ACS) for the Atlanta metro area (three years pooled for larger sample size), I got the never-married, childfree, full-time and full-year employed men and women ages 25-34 (22-30 is not a good marriage market, since the average age at marriage is near the top of that range).

Sure enough, the women in this group have an earnings advantage, with median earnings of $37,473, compared with $35,000 for men. The distribution looks like this:

I’ve added a few calculations to the figure. The “index of net difference” (ND) is a handy tool for showing how two groups rank hierarchically along a single dimension (in this case income). Using the formula given by Lieberson here, and these categories, I reckon that the chance that a random woman will be in a higher category than a random man from this distribution is 45%. The opposite, that a man will be in a higher category, is 39%, so the ND is -.06. So, that’s good for women.

Note also that, despite the alleged statistical know-how of the high-income women at Mundy’s table, there are actually 1.6-times as many men in the the top income range of this marriage market as there are women. They have plenty to choose from at the high end, even though women’s median is higher. That’s because there are more men than women in the pool. I suppose there are two reasons for this: First, fewer women work full-time year-round. And second, lots of people are single parents, and when children live with their mothers, it’s the mothers who are excluded from this pool — the fathers, not the mothers, come up as childless.

Anyway, that’s the pool. What about the marriages? The ACS identifies people who got married in the past 12 months. In that 3-year sample I have about 200 couples to work with. So, here is the income distribution for men and women, ages 25-34, with no children present, who just got married. I dropped the full-time and -year restriction, since people could have quit working, and I limited it to couples where both are in the age range:

Just as in our hypothetical example, richer men and poorer women got married. Now the distribution skews decidedly male. The ND has reversed, and husbands’ median income is $12,527 higher than wives’.

How is that possible, when, as we are reminded so often, women are so much more likely to have graduated college? Two reasons: first, people overwhelmingly marry partners on the same side of the BA/no-BA divide; and second, men with BAs make more than women.

Here’s the Atlanta situation. First, education: Women in this group — 25-34, FTYR, never-married, no kids — are much more likely to have BAs: 62% to 41%.

However, in 72% of couples both spouses are on the same side of the BA divide (57% + 15%):

Setting aside all that educational endogamy, with so many more women BAs, women really are much more likely to marry down the educational ladder: 25% of childless, 25-34-year-old Atlanta newly-wed couples have a BA wife and a non-BA husband.

But men earn more at every education level. As a result of that — and by whatever additional machinations of partner-selection — only 38% of these couples have a higher-earning wife. Only a third of the BA-BA couples have higher-earning wives, and even when the wife has a BA and the husband doesn’t, that number is only 54%:

That’s how, even when you define the marriage market in such a way as to paint women’s situation as positively as possible — finding that rare niche in which women earn more than men — you discover the marriage system reproducing gender inequality.

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End of Men conference in Boston

This Friday and Saturday I will be at this conference at Boston University. I’m excited to be part of it – a great lineup of legal scholars, sociologists, historians and etc. – plus Hanna Rosin talking about her book, The End of Men, which I’ve been writing about under this tag.

If you’re in the area I hope you can make it. It’s free and open to the public (schedule here, registration form here).

Here’s the blurb:

“The end of men,” a phrase coined by journalist Hanna Rosin, captures the proposition that women have made such remarkable progress in all domains—and men have suffered such declines and reversals—that women are effectively surpassing men and becoming the dominant sex. This interdisciplinary conference will evaluate claims about “the end of men” and consider implications for law and policy. It will examine empirical assertions about men’s and women’s comparative status in concrete domains, such as education, the workplace and the family. Feminist diagnoses of sex discrimination have fueled changes in law and policy, as well as in cultural norms. Should recent claims about the status of men likewise prompt redress? The conference will examine how the data supporting claims about the end of men— and progress of women—look once differentiated by class, race, region and other categories. It will provide historical perspectives on current anxieties about imbalances between men’s and women’s power, opportunities and status. The conference will also put “end of men” claims in comparative and international perspective, asking whether they are distinctive to the United States. Papers and proceedings will be published in the Boston University Law Review.

And here’s the roster of speakers:

  • HANNA ROSIN, author of “The End of Men”
  • RALPH RICHARD BANKS, Stanford Law School
  • MICHAEL KIMMEL, SUNY at Stony Brook, Dept. of Sociology
  • JOAN C. WILLIAMS, University of California-Hastings College of the Law
  • KHIARA M. BRIDGES, Boston University School of Law
  • KINGSLEY R. BROWNE, Wayne State University Law School
  • NAOMI CAHN, George Washington University School of Law
  • JUNE CARBONE, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
  • MARY ANNE CASE, University of Chicago Law School
  • PHILIP N. COHEN, University of Maryland, Dept. of Sociology
  • KRISTIN COLLINS, Boston University School of Law
  • STEPHANIE COONTZ, Evergreen State College, History and Family Studies
  • FRANK RUDY COOPER, Suffolk University School of Law
  • LYNDA DODD, City College of New York, CUNY, Political Science
  • NANCY DOWD, University of Florida Levin College of Law
  • KATHRYN EDIN, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government
  • SHAHLA HAERI, Boston University Dept. of Anthropology
  • MICHAEL HARPER, Boston University School of Law
  • DANIEL L. HATCHER, University of Baltimore School of Law
  • PNINA LAHAV, Boston University School of Law
  • SERENA MAYERI, University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • LINDA C. MCCLAIN, Boston University School of Law
  • ANN C. MCGINLEY, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law
  • FIONNUALA NI AOLAIN, University of Minnesota Law School
  • ANTHONY RAO, Behavioral Solutions
  • CARYL RIVERS, Boston University College of Communication
  • WILLIAM M. RODGERS III, Rutgers University, Heldrich Center for Workforce Development
  • ROSEMARY SALOMONE, St. John’s University School of Law
  • MICHAEL SELMI, George Washington University School of Law
  • KATHARINE SILBAUGH, Boston University School of Law
  • JULIE C. SUK, Yeshiva University, Cardozo School of Law
  • MARTIN SUMMERS, Boston College, History Department

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BREAKING: Men seize power in Alexander City, Alabama

It depends what Hanna Rosin’s definition of “had” is.

In The End of Men, Hanna Rosin quotes a man who’s been trying to get his benefits from the women at the local unemployment office, writing:

“I was born in the South, where the men take care of their women,” he said. “Suddenly it’s us who are relying on the women. Suddenly, we got the women in control.” This year, Alexander City had its first female mayor.

Katie Roiphe, writing about the book in Financial Times Magazine, liked the passage so much she re-wrote it for herself:

One man told her, “I was born in the South, where the men take care of their women. Suddenly it’s us who are relying on the women. Suddenly, we got the women in control.” And that same year the town elected its first female mayor.

But wait, look again. Rosin wrote, “this year, Alexander City had its first female mayor.” What does that even mean?

Roiphe, carefully not plagiarizing as she repeated the passage, substituted “elected its first female mayor.” An obvious mistake to make, since why else would Rosin write, “this year,” as if there was something relevant about this year (whichever year it was written) — something that would compound the poor unemployed guy’s pain.

But.

In fact, mayor Barbara Young was first elected in 2004, and then re-elected in 2008 (with 85% of the vote). This is her:

I am not saying that Hanna Rosin deliberately left the impression that Barbara Young is the new mayor of Alexander City. Just that it was an easy mistake for Roiphe to make. And it fits her narrative better than an equally accurate statement, say, “This year Alexander City will lose its first woman mayor.”

So, if you got the impression from The End of Men that the declining manufacturing base of the city led to a power shift in which men lost ground and women took over, culminating in the election of a woman mayor — that’s not surprising. (I already wrote about Alexander City’s 17% city council and 7% female department heads.)

But consider that the town’s manufacturing woes date back to the 1990s, when the Russell Corporation started heading for the exits. Barbara Young has come and gone during that time, and the patriarchy was still able to scrape together a man (or five) to replace her.*

Alexander City has fallen on hard times. The men who worked in manufacturing have had it especially hard. But it’s no matriarchy. As I noted the other day, it’s also a place where men have higher employment rates than women, men have higher median earnings than women, and men are twice as likely to earn more than $75,000 per year.

*Oh yes, the breaking news. Now we read in the local paper that, among the five men and no women running for mayor this year, the current mayor’s son, Bill, came in last in the primary, with just over 500 votes. His disappointing showing might or might not have had to do with an old felony conviction. His mother might or might not have been helpful, but she had at least $1,000 less to give him after her contribution to Alabama Republican Senator Richard Shelby in 2010.

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Who knew? (cuz Hanna Rosin said so edition)

Maybe the greatest number of inaccuracies yet in a single Hanna Rosin sentence.

Hanna Rosin, in The End of Men, recognizes that “the familiar statistics” show women very under-represented in the very top echelons of wealth and power. But she argues we need to see “the current setup … for what it truly is: the last gasp of a vanishing age.”

To put our historical moment in perspective she offers this capsule summary:

Women are now lead TV anchors, Ivy League College heads, bank presidents, corporate CEOs, movie directors, scatologically savvy comedians, presidential candidates – all unthinkable even twenty years ago.

Unthinkable? Not only were all of those things demonstrably thinkable 20 years ago, they (almost) all actually happened. (The exception is a female Ivy League president, which didn’t occur until 19 years ago.)

If Rosin had written “weekday network prime time anchors” then you could quibble about whether Marlene Sanders, Jessica Savitch and others count, since they only substituted in that role while hosting other programs. But anyway, Barbara Walters and Connie Chung were weekday prime time co-anchors more than 20 years ago — theirs the only face on the screen for plenty of time.

Also, was Roseanne (or someone else) “scatologically savvy”? She famously shouted, “suck my dick!” during her 1987 HBO show, but I didn’t see anything literally scatological.

But anyway, I’ve already spent much more time on this sentence than Rosin did, so I’ll just move on.*

Point is, these signal female accomplishments didn’t signal the arrival of matriarchy when they actually happened any more than do recent advances beyond them. Instead, they represented incremental movements in the direction of gender parity in some fields. Which also describes where we are now — and better off for it.

* Source for all facts unless otherwise linked: Google. [Students please note: that is not an acceptable method of citation for academic work, which this isn’t.]

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Are women becoming the violenter sex? (Hanna Rosin edition)

Are women becoming more violent as they move towards equality with men? Hanna Rosin says yes. But no.

showed previously that Rosin, in her book The End of Men, grossly exaggerates the decline in sexual assault against women. What about the reverse — the increase in women’s violence?

In the radio show we were on together, the host asked, “Are [women] superior?”, and Rosin answered:

No. In fact, one thing I explicitly avoid in the book is this idea from Steven Pinker and others, that when women take over the world the world becomes a wonderful place, which is why I explicitly put in a chapter about violence, just to sort of make people understand that it’s not that women are wonderful and better … power has an effect on women like it has an effect on men.

That’s trouble, because when Rosin has the answer before she starts the research the outcome is a pretty sure thing. So, let’s see how much more violence women are perpetrating now.

Arresting evidence

Rosin starts her section on violence trends with this:

At the start of the aughts, criminologists began to notice something curious about the crime trends. The great crime wave of the mid-nineties was finally coming to an end. Rates of all violent crimes were plummeting — that is, violent crime committed by men.

She doesn’t actually say violence by women has increased, just emphasizes that it decreased for men. Her actual evidence for an upward trend in violence by women turns out to be from arrest rates. Using a report on the trend from 1992 to 2003, for example, Rosin describes the increase in juvenile assault arrests for girls, which was real.

Here is the trend she’s talking about: juvenile arrest rates for violent crimes, from the Bureau of Justice Statistics:

Even with the early-2000s decline, violent crime arrests for female juveniles were higher in 2004 than they were in 1980 — which was not true for men. She writes, “Women were by no means catching up to men, but they were fast closing the gap.” And that’s true, too — the male rate fell from roughly 8-times to roughly 4-times the female rate.

But arrest rates are tricky, since they reflect both (alleged) violence and police responses. Consider that the rate of homicide charges against female juveniles fell from around 1.0 per 100,000 in the early 1980s to about 0.5 in the late 2000s.

Women’s violence

Setting aside juveniles and arrest rates, we can look at violence by women through reports of victims in the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), and police accounts of homicide offenders.

From victim reports, there has been a slight increase in women’s representation among violent offenders in the last decade — edging up to about 20% of offenders. But the rate of violence by women is decidedly trending down.

The NCVS numbers show a drop in the number of women as violent offenders from the late 1990s. When you factor in population growth in that time, the drop is almost half — from more than 10 crimes per 100,000 women to less than 6:

Murder is probably the best-measured crime. According to FBI reports of homicide offenders, the number of male offenders was about the same in 2005 as it was 30 years earlier — but the number of women committing murder fell by more than 40%. As a result, the percentage of murders committed by women fell from more than 15% to less than 10%:

The FBI also releases rates of homicide for intimate partners. Here the evidence is dramatic and clear: From 1975 to 2005, the number of men murdered by intimates dropped by 75%, compared with a 25% drop in the number of women murdered:

From this evidence, it seems clear that women’s violence is on the decline — not rising, as Rosin says and implies. Even if the juvenile arrest rates reflect violence trends instead of just policing, those are also falling since the early 1990s.

When the evidence is the opposite

So far this goes in the category of exaggeration, ignoring existing evidence, and reading too much into too little evidence. But it gets much worse. A good tip from Ally Fogg (who elaborates here) pointed me toward a case where Rosin doesn’t just misread the evidence — she reverses the evidence to fit her argument.

After quoting a criminologist about how “unhinged” some people get when their narrative of female victimhood is disrupted, Rosin goes back to women’s arrest rates:

A recent British study showed the women were three times more likely to be arrested for domestic violence, and far more likely to use a weapon.

Fortunately, she provides a link to the study in question. The first half of that sentence refers to this passage. But read it:

As might be expected from the nature and severity of the domestic violence incidents, there were more arrests overall of men than of women. All cases [of couples with a violence charge] with seven or more incidents, most of which involved men, led to arrest at some time. This echoes US findings that male domestic violence perpetrators have more extensive criminal histories than female perpetrators. None the less, women were arrested to a disproportionate degree given the fewer incidents where they were perpetrators. Women were three times more likely to be arrested. (bold added)

This is not a case of just leaving out the context. The study’s fact is the opposite of what she implied, which was that women commit more domestic violence (remember, this is shortly after she used arrest rates to represent the prevalence of violence among juveniles).

On the second half of the sentence, that women were “far more likely to use a weapon,” it is true that the study found 24% of women accused of domestic violence used a weapon, compared with 11% of men. And the author wrote, “women were much more likely to use a weapon.” But in the table where that number appears, the difference is marked as not statistically significant (because this study was a small community-level study of just 126 perpetrators of domestic violence).

For the U.S., incidentally, Rosin should have cited evidence that men are in fact more likely to face a weapon in nonfatal intimate-partner violence — 81% versus 69%. Of course, men only experience 17% of nonfatal intimate-partner attacks. Overall, however, this BJS study from the 1990s reported that men were twice as likely as women to use a weapon in the commission of a violent crime. None of this suggests women are becoming more violent at their power grows.

Lest we forget

This 2005 NCVS study reported that women committed:

  • 10% of stranger violence
  • 16% of all non-family violence
  • 23% of all family violence
  • 24% of violence among friends/acquaintances
  • 16% of violence between boyfriends and girlfriends

Men commit most of the violence. The growing employment rates, education levels and earnings of women don’t seem to have changed that much.

I am not coming unhinged. I am concerned about the damage done by Rosin’s corruption of the evidence to support the claim that women’s domination is nigh.

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Debunking End of Men, “Myth of Male Decline” edition

Stephanie Coontz has an excellent essay in the New York Times Sunday Review, “The Myth of Male Decline,” which includes some numbers from this blog and my upcoming review of Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men.

Here’s the figure they made from the numbers I provided:

The top half is from this post, using Bureau of Labor Statistics data from this year.

The bottom half is new, extending the debunking of the young-women-earn-more-than-young-men meme. This is an important angle because it shows the fallacy of Hanna Rosin’s description of young women as usually earning more than the men they work with. At the same level of education, even among these oddly-sliced 20-somethings — no kids, never married, full-time workers — women are not outearning men.

I’ve tried to chip away at this meme a few times before:

And I’ve created a series of posts on The End of Men, which are under this Hanna Rosin tag.

There’s also a great graphic showing the changing gender composition of selected occupations, using data from David Cotter, Joan Hermsen and Reeve Vanneman.

Coontz’s essay is great for drawing the distinction between the real progress toward gender equality — which is also limited, and in important areas stalled — and the fantasy of female domination.

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Alabama matriarchy (debunking The End of Men edition)

Hanna Rosin, in The End of Men, says sociologists have described the collapse of the manufacturing-based white working class. But we have missed how that event has had different effects on men and women.

In fact, the most distinctive change is probably the emergence of an American matriarchy, where the younger men especially are unmoored, and closer than at any other time in history to being obsolete.

This is from the chapter that was excerpted in the New York Times Magazine. In it, she describes Alexander City, Alabama — a small town devastated by the vanishing manufacturing sector — and nearby Auburn, the nearby success story. These two towns are two sides of the End of Men — and her description of them is basically fiction.

In this fantasy, Alexander City has a “new domestic reality: the woman paying the mortgage, the woman driving to work.” She writes:

“I was born in the South, where the men take care of the women,” [Charles Gettys, a laid off textile manager] said. “Suddenly, it’s us who are relying on the women. Suddenly, we got the women in control.” This year, Alexander City had its first female mayor.

That last sentence is Rosin giving us the context. That spooky feeling of women encroaching, taking over: A female mayor. To help her illustrate this drama, I checked the composition of the city council for Alexander City and confirmed it — there is also a woman on the council:

(In fact, Mayor Barbara Young does not fit the mold of the leading edge of rising women, as described by Rosin. Instead, she seems more like the old-fashioned female politician: a retired school principal and widow of a judge, she is the mother of two politicians, Circuit Judge Tom Young and council member Bill Young [second from right], the latter of whom, despite a 1990s federal felony conviction, is himself now running for mayor this year.)

Anyway, this collapse of man is not just limited to politics. “Wherever I went in town,” Rosin writes, “I met couples like the Gettyses, where the husband was stuck in place and the wife was moving ahead.”

And they’re not all formerly well-to-do. She highlights another couple that fits that description, the young, unmarried Shannon and Troy. She works part-time at Walmart, studies nursing at community college and works as an exotic dancer to feed their young son. Troy sleeps till 11, except for the four days last month when he did a little work. You can tell when he’s awake because cigarette smoke starts coming out from under the door of his room in their trailer. Troy is not the only deadbeat, unemployed man in town. According to Rosin, in fact, when he does the family’s shopping, all he sees are “aisles and aisles of dudes” at the store.

To check out this male vacuum for myself, I took a ride down the information superhighway to the American Community Survey’s 2006-2010 file (you need 5 years to get estimates for small areas).

Given her description of Troy as the typical Alexander City deadbeat, I was surprised to learn that 77% of Alexander City’s 20-something men are employed, compared with only 53% of women. In fact, the employment rate is higher for men at all ages, and the employed labor force is 53% male.

Alexander City is a poor place, there’s no doubt about that, and men’s earnings are especially low. More than 40% of men who work full-time all year earn less than $30,000, compared with 24% nationally. And there are, in fact, more women than men with jobs in the $30,000-$50,000 earnings range. But look at the top of Alexander City: 70% of the people earning more than $75,000 are men (which is where 15% of men are, compared with 7% of women). Overall, men’s full-time year-round median earnings are about $5,000 more than women’s.

Rosin quotes the local Southern Baptist leader, who’s also beating the “matriarchy” drum. “The real issue here is not the end of men, but the disappearance of manhood.” Literally. That probably explains why there’s also a woman among city government’s department heads:

What does that one woman do? She is in charge of the city’s Senior Nutrition program. And so it begins: the matriarchy’s pedicured toe creeps a little further up the ladder.

Matriarchal success

Down the road is the success story: Auburn, “the one city [in eastern Alabama] that got it right.” The secret?

Auburn has become the region’s one economic powerhouse by turning itself into a town dominated by women.

Wow – dominated by women. A strong claim. What’s the evidence? Well, she starts with the thing about young women earning more than young men (without even mentioning that only includes never-married, childless, full-time workers). In fact, Auburn is a “perfect reflection of the modern, feminized economy: a combination of university, service, government jobs, with a small share of manufacturing.”

She launches into an anecdote about a woman who “works in the female-dominated economic development department” (that department is actually directed by a man), and her “three best girlfriends … a consultant, a lawyer, and an engineer.”

That’s should be enough evidence to support the “dominated by women” claim. But, to bring it home, she asks, “Does any place still belong to the men”? And goes to a manufacturing plant, but even that has recently “tipped to 55 percent women.” (The city’s manufacturing industry employees are actually 32% female, says the Census.)

To see if “any place still belonged to the men” Rosin might have checked the Mayor and City Council…

…or the city government’s department heads…

…or, because it’s a university town, the university’s top administration and board of trustees:

I wouldn’t go so far as to say married couples in Auburn “belong to the men.” But a lot of their income does. As I showed previously, among married couples in Lee County, Alabama (home of Auburn), those with women earning none of family income outnumber the reverse by 32-to-1:

If Rosin really wanted to see what male domination looks like, she could have checked the Census data (5-year ACS file), and found out:

  • The city’s workforce is 54% male.
  • Women on average earn 71% of what men earn.
  • 70% of the people in management occupations are men.
  • Male managers earn an average 36% more than female managers.

Women are very sneaky, concealing their domination like that.

But seriously: I do believe there is an important and interesting story to tell about what happens to gender and families when economic fortunes decline asymmetrically by gender. I’d love to read that book.

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