The ‘War on Women’ and Statistical Frauds


equal-pay-women-006The “war on women” political slogan is in fact a war against common sense.

It is a statistical fraud when Barack Obama and other politicians say that women earn only 77 percent of what men earn — and that this is because of discrimination.

It would certainly be discrimination if women were doing the same work as men, for the same number of hours, with the same amount of training and experience, as well as other things being the same. But study after study, over the past several decades, has shown repeatedly that those things are not the same.

Constantly repeating the “77 percent” statistic does not make them the same. It simply takes advantage of many people’s ignorance — something that Barack Obama has been very good at doing on many other issues.

What if you compare women and men who are the same on all the relevant characteristics?

First of all, you can seldom do that, because the statistics you would need are not always available for the whole range of occupations and the whole range of differences between women’s patterns and men’s patterns in the labor market.

Even where relevant statistics are available, careful judgment is required to pick samples of women and men who are truly comparable.

For example, some women are mothers and some men are fathers. But does the fact that they are both parents make them comparable in the labor market? Actually the biggest disparity in incomes is between fathers and mothers. Nor is there anything mysterious about this, when you stop and think about it.

How surprising is it that women with children do not earn as much as women who do not have children? If you don’t think children take up a mother’s time, you just haven’t raised any children.

How surprising is it that men with children earn more than men without children, just the opposite of the situation with women? Is it surprising that a man who has more mouths to feed is more likely to work longer hours? Or take on harder or more dangerous jobs, in order to earn more money?

More than 90 percent of the people who are killed on the job are men.

During my research on male-female differences for my book “Economic Facts and Fallacies,” I was amazed to learn that young male doctors earned much higher incomes than young female doctors. But it wasn’t so amazing after I discovered that young male doctors worked over 500 hours more per year than young female doctors. There is no point pretending that there are no differences between what women do and what men do in the workplace, or that these differences don’t affect income.

Even when women and men work at jobs that have the same title — whether doctors, lawyers, economists or whatever — people do not get paid for what their job title is, but for what they actually do.

Women lawyers who are pregnant, or who have young children, may have good reasons to prefer a 9 to 5 job in a government agency to working 60 hours a week in a high-powered law firm. But there is no point comparing male lawyers as a group with female lawyers as a group, if you don’t look any deeper than job titles.

Unless, of course, you are not looking for the truth, but for political talking points to excite the gullible.

Even when you compare women and men with the “same” education, as measured by college or university degrees, the women usually specialize in a very different mix of subjects, with very different income-earning potential.

Although comparing women and men who are in fact comparable is not easy to do, when you look at women and men who are similar on multiple factors, the sex differential in pay shrinks drastically and gets close to the vanishing point. In some categories, women earn more than men with the same range of characteristics.

If the 77 percent statistic was for real, employers would be paying 30 percent more than they had to, every time they hired a man to do a job that a woman could do just as well. Would employers be such fools with their own money? If you think employers don’t care about paying 30 percent more than they have to, just go ask your boss for a 30 percent raise!

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  • DaCoachK

    Mr. Sowell:
    Far too much common sense in your writing for the average emotion-driven imbecile of a liberal, for whom emotional appeals are preferred to logical reasoning. Liberals have the emotional makeup of a fourteen year old girl, so hard facts pale alongside PSA announcements from the latest pop star.

    • Atikva

      “a fourteen year old girl”… you are too generous.

      • mendezjb

        Yea why did he have to insult 14 year old girls?

  • Consider

    “Obama and other politicians”, and for that matter other people who said something about this problem maintain that women are paid less than men, FOR THE SAME work.

    Well, that may or may not be so, but the author want to prove a completely different thing; that men and women do different work in different conditions and that this results in difference in money earned.
    Big discovery!
    He could also add that women tend to work in lower paid jobs . 99% of cleaning personel (“Putzfrauen” in German) are women.
    This line of arguing is a logical fallacy called Ignoratio elenchi (or something like this).

    • CaoMoo

      He did adress the point about the same work amongst men and women who are equally comparable. Studies show they are paid about the same in some cases women make more. rereadthe article

    • AD Burnette

      Yes, “Obama and other politicians” say that women are paid less for the same work. But then they cite a statistic (women are paid 77% less) based upon men and women doing DIFFERENT work. That’s prof. Sowell’s point. Also, as CoaMoo said, he addressed the issue you raised, just not as obviously as you would have liked (I guess).

  • Consider

    In the pornografic film industry, women actors are paid 250-500% than male actors, and this for the same work, on the same place in the same conditions.
    i cannot understand why this observation of mine has been censored 2 times.

    • CaoMoo

      The word p o r n triggers disqus

  • cxt

    Another excellent post from Prof Sowell.
    Amazing how novel a little realism sounds—and highlights just how crazy the “wage gap” argument has become.

  • http://www.clarespark.com/ Clare Spark

    Sowell is entirely correct on the statistical fraud and the choices that women make to juggle children and career. But in the effort to clear up Dems propaganda are we losing sight of the ways women are subjugated, even more so now because of the second wave of feminism? I tried to lay it out here: http://clarespark.com/2014/04/10/gendered-wage-inequality-an-overview/. “Gendered wage inequality: An Overview.”

  • A Z

    I am getting this book, “Economic Facts and Fallacies”, and making sure it makes the rounds.

    • Patriot077

      You can’t go wrong with any of Sowell’s books. All are gold. “Dismantling America” is a really good, easy to read and understand volume that is suitable for sharing with your most resistant or uninformed friends.

  • Atikva

    Let’s not forget WHY the left invented the so-called “women emancipation”, according to the mysterious “Nick Rockefeller” answering Aaron Russo’s remarks about women’s right to work and equal pay with men: “You are an idiot. The Rockefeller Foundation financed women’s lib for two primary reasons: one, to be able to tax the second half of the population, and two, in order to control their children at a much earlier age”.

  • Consider

    Something is strange here.

    The post that I wrote 10 hours ago and disapeared, suddenly reappeared, while that written 1 hour ago disapeared (which I don’t intend to resubmitt, maybe it shall reappear on its own).

    Anyhow:
    “… studies show women are paid less even when they are in the same job and have the same experience as their male counterparts. The 2012 report by the American Association of University Women found that after controlling for occupation, college major, hours worked, employment sector and other factors related to a person’s pay, the gender wage gap shrunk but did not entirely disappear.”
    Therefore the author hasn’t refuted the theory that the women are paid less for the same work. He only argued that they perform different work, hence the difference in earnings.

    • mendezjb

      not actually something to consider. He did not say they perform different work. A lawyer for a government agency does the same work as a lawyer for a law firm. They just do it for less time.

      Go re read the article until you understand it.

      • Consider

        He said that in the government agency they work 40 hours per week (from 9 to 5) while in ‘high powered law firm they work 60 hours per week ‘ .
        This is not the same work.
        The complain of ‘Obama and the politicians’ is that women receive less for the same work (in quality and quantity).

  • nimbii

    Dr. Sowell’s argument is spot on. Being intellectually satisfied with this argument is gratifying, but it is also precisely why we lose elections…

    Dems grab a social justice issue like a Shamwow and the MSM promotes it like a Shamwow.

    I recall from 101 sociology that the propaganda technique; “Repeat a lie” works and sooner or later it sticks.

    That’s why Dems create the lie and that’s why the MSM repeats it.

    So, one question is: How do we take Dr. Sowell’s fine work and make it into a Shamwow?

    • Odin

      The left wants to increase the minimum wage for the cynical reason that its good optics in a midterm election year, even though an increase in the minimum wage will hurt those few who are working for a minimum wage- especially minority youth where unemployment is rampant. It is difficult to oppose raising the minimum wage because raising it sounds so caring and opposing a raise sounds so uncaring and requires people to understand some basic economics. The left will never listen, because after all, anyone who disagrees with the left is evil. And, when you get into any explanation of something beyond a sound bite most peoples eyes glaze over anyway.

      The union wage in many union contracts is computed by a multiple or add on to the minimum wage so any increase in the minimum wages automatically results in an increase in union wages. Could this be another cynical reason Democrats and unions are for increasing the minimum wage (even though the increase will hurt those earning the minimum wage)?

      I don’t know anyone who makes minimum wage and I will just be attacked as an uncaring {fill in the space here} for caring about those who will be hurt by the increase.

      Perhaps the GOP should quit fighting an issue that most will not understand so hard. Just make it clear that that the unions will benefit and those who are hurt by the increase should remember who did this to them. The Democrats did this. Perhaps a full page ad in major newspapers to that effect might wake some people up.

      • nimbii

        There are gifted people on the internet, Fox News, the Blaze, etc. We need their creativity and help.

      • fistdeyuma

        If Republicans did not care about the poor, as accused by Democrats at every turn, they would allow the minimum wage to be raised to ridicules levels. That would price out all unskilled labor and really hurt the poor. Instead they fight FOR the poor by keeping the Democrats from pricing them out of the market. Their reward is the poor and minorities rush to vote for those who truly harm them, and punish their only defenders.

        • Odin

          No good deed goes unpunished.

  • uptownsteve

    According to Uncle Thomas, the only cultural or political war is against his beloved white massa. His power and omnipotence is no longer unchallenged and that be so wrong.

    • Drakken

      Well if it isn’t ghetto stevie running his suck as usual, and you kaffirs wonder why we don’t give YOU people any credit for the idiocy that flows out of that c**k holster of yours.

    • truebearing

      You should respect your superiors, intellectual and otherwise. In Sowell’s case, you aren’t smart enough to understand how much more intelligent he is than you and you aren’t honest enough to admit it. You’re too filled with indoctrinated hate to learn and too stupid to realize it.

      You are one sorry excuse for a human being.

    • fistdeyuma

      Careful there uptown. If you go off insulting people instead of sticking to the facts people will think you are some stupid, immoral, creep of a Liberal. If you disagree with Doctor Sowell’s thinking here is a good place to express it. We will read it with respect. We might disagree but admire someone who is willing to debate the issues instead of calling someone names.