Great Graphic: International Comparison Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap re-emerged as a political talking point in the recent US news cycle.  This Great Graphic was tweeted by the Wall Street Journal.  An international comparison suggests that there is more than some sort of biological law being played out.  Leaving to have children would suggest less disperse results, and especially among countries with similar income levels.   The Wall Street Journal cites the International Labor Organization as the source of the data.  

If it is indeed accurate, the great dispersion of the data begs more investigation.  It is also striking how well some emerging market economies scored, including very poor countries, like Guatemala, Tanzania, and Egypt.  The gap among the high income countries is also remarkable.  Consider that in Germany, women's earnings are 80% of men's, while in the UK the gap is at 63%.  In addition, some Islamic countries have impressive results, like Turkey, which shows no gender gap in pay, and Qatar,  which at 82% is a higher ratio than in many European countries, including Finland, which is often associated with egalitarian values.  

Turning back to the US, a 2009 Labor Department study found that when controlled for experience and education the US gender gap narrowed to about 5%.  Some argue that if adjusted for the fact that men are more likely to be injured on the job than women, the gaps would virtually disappear.  Others highlight the differences in education and note that there is almost no gender gap for the more recent college graduates.  

While gender pay disparity is an important issue, more fundamental, it seems to me, is the broader distribution of the productivity gains between wages and profits that favors the latter to an extreme.  This is not a reductionist argument.  One need not assert that solving the class issue will resolve the gender disparity, but rather that the class issue is more profound.  If I understand Piketty's work, the return to capital (wealth) is growing significantly relative to wage income throughout the world.   The gender pay gap is not as universal and it appears to be closing in many countries.   

Gender equality is an admirable goal, but in a world in which men's wages do not keep pace with productivity or inflation, is pay equality enough?   It says something about the state of affairs when the demand that women be equally under-paid as men is among the most progressive stances.  

Great Graphic: International Comparison Gender Pay Gap Great Graphic:  International Comparison Gender Pay Gap Reviewed by Marc Chandler on April 14, 2014 Rating: 5
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