Why We Should Pay Josh 26% More to Do His Chores
In this election cycle, you may have heard a candidate or two mention something called the wage gap. The wage gap measures the difference in earnings by gender when men and women are working the same job. Most often, the wage gap is expressed in the percentage of male earnings, but I think it’s more vivid to describe it using the percentage difference.
Not surprisingly, across the country the gap favors men. Nationally, the current wage gap sits at about 23%. In other words, if a man and a woman are working the same exact job, men make 23 cents more on the dollar compared to their female counterparts. And here’s the thing:
23% is actually something to be celebrated.
Because, historically speaking, the 23% gap is an all-time high in this country. For instance, according to this site, in 1963, the year the Equal Pay Act was passed in Congress, the gap was over 41%. The good news is that over time the gap has been closing. The bad news is that it’s closed at a glacial pace, at the rate of less than half a cent per year.
Locally, according to this site, the wage gap in Fresno County stands at 26%. By that measure, we need to revisit the allowance distribution in our house! Want to know what the gap is in your county? Check out that link.
At the end of the day:
The wage gap is a symptom of underlying reality of male privilege.
Why does the wage gap exist? That”s a tough question to answer and economists have plenty of theories (and some have plenty of pushback). Lots of factors are a part of the conversation, things like age, educational level and ethnicity. Still, at its core, the wage gap represents a systemic bias against women. It’s a consequence and a symptom of the reality of male privilege.
Lastly, two thoughts on what the wage gap means:
First and foremost, the dogged presence of a wage gap in our country means that women have less money in their pockets then men do. And of course that matters, particularly in a down economy where two thirds of American families have women as either their primary or co-breadwinners. Further, closing the wage gap would be a serious boon to the economy. This article suggests that closing the gap would grow the U.S. economy by 3-4 percentage points, the equivalent of twice the impact of the 2009 federal stimulus package.
Next, there’s the issue of dignity. What the wage gap communicates is that women are fundamentally worth 77% of what men are. Simply put, there is no dignity in a wage gap. In his book A Public Faith, theologian Miroslav Volf articulates the term “human flourishing.” I like the imagery of that idea. Imagine an economic world where men and women are free to flourish at the same level, compensated equally for the work they provide.
What about you? How does the reality of a wage gap make you feel?