NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Bogus Study Perpetuates Wage Gap Myths

November 5, 2012

The American Association of University Women's (AAUW) recent investigative report, "Graduating to a Pay Gap," postulates that millennial women make 82 cents for every dollar a male peer makes.  Based on this finding, the AAUW advocates for bolder pay equity legislation, says Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

However, further examination finds that women make 93 cents -- not 82 cents -- on a man's dollar, after accounting for all college majors and occupation.  The seven cent difference may be attributed to discrimination, but this could be due to equivocality of the data.

  • The study's occupational categories are too broad.
  • Therefore, one cannot draw an accurate understanding about pay equity when workers share little career overlap.
  • For example, the AAUW report compares the pay of male lawyers with that of female librarians; of male athletes with that of female communications assistants.
  • There is little evaluation between people who do the same work.
  • To demonstrate discrimination, the investigation should detail differences in salaries of men and women in the same job with the same experience.
  • Given similar conditions, if there are discrepancies between wages, then there may be discrimination at play -- warranting prosecution.

Why publish such a careless report? Furchtgott-Roth says it is to get young women to feel that they are victims of discrimination and to take the steps necessary to amend their situation.

  • In this case, it is to vote for President Obama who is promising pay equity.
  • However, under Obama's reign, women have fared poorly.
  • Women participation in the labor market has decreased from 57 percent in 2009 to 55 percent in 2012.
  • Moreover, during this time, female unemployment numbers increased from 4.4 million to 4.9 million.
  • Even in the White House, women are paid 90 cents on a man's dollar.

Source: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, "Bogus AAUW Study Perpetuates Wage Gap Myths," Washington Examiner, October 30, 2012.


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