Gender equality in the work place

Mary Ann Dimand amaebi at iwon.com
Wed Aug 30 21:36:13 EDT 2000


Congratulations on your increased income, Jacob!

As I said earlier, education is merely an imperfect index of ability/skill.
But it is of some use as an index, in many people's views.

For those who wish to look at labor force participation and employment rates
and numbers for men and women over a period of some years, I recommend
http://stats.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cpsatab1.htm -- you choose the
statistics you want them to show you.

And indeed, they show that women have both lower labor force participation
rates and higher employment. And Jacob is quite correct that these result in
a relative lack of experience which is a "just cause" of lower remuneration.

However, those facts cut both ways. There is not independence between
employed-labor experience and remuneration in *either* direction. Another
factor it is difficult to deal with statistically. When someone anticipates
more unemployment and a lower income from market work, one has less
incentive to be a labour market participant. This simultaneity leads to
difficulties in statistical estimation which can be disentangled in a
variety of ways, all of which are strongly susceptible to the researcher's
assumptions about people's expectation formation on the basis of data. In
many or perhaps even most models, therefore, experience is used as an
independent variable, as Jacob is using it.

And indeed, there are a number of features standard to employment in a
number of countries now which can be used to explain lower labor force
participation of women (and often simultaneously, low child-rearing
participation of men). These may include a lack of paid time off after a
child is born or adopted, lack of amenities for expressing breast milk on
the premises, and other factors. One can take these to be part of the
definition of Job, or one can considerable them alterable.

Jacob is quite correct that liberal economists tend to publish findings
which agree with their belifs, and that they use data (and models) which
facilitate this. So far as I know, conservative economists do the same
thing. And I would be foolish to anticipate anyone with a pronounced view
altering it because of Census or BLS data. But I think that people who are
wondering whether their beliefs are indeed foolish, or who are forming their
beliefs on the basis of other folks's conversation might like to look at
data.

There have been quite a few labour studies done on the basis of
less-aggregated data, including age and years-on-the-job as well as
education as variables to capture experience. Those I've heard about
casually still indicate a significant earnings differential between males
and females, Whites and people of colour. As I also said earlier, I'm not a
labour economist. But I can certainly go look up references for these (and I
promise to take all references from a given time period of a year or more
from all economics journals, conservative and liberal). I'll do so privately
for anyone who asks me.

But somehow I suspect that participants on a Diana Wynne Jones list have
already seen more on this than they care to, and likely have erased this
message long since. :) So I'll work on not posting more on this subject in
this thread.

Mary Ann


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