Sunday, October 26, 2008

UK sex pay gap is not about discrimination

Professor J R Shackleton in the Sunday Times writes that the so called "gender" pay gap is not an issue for public policy concern:

"What accounts for the gender pay gap? Not discrimination. For one thing, you find differences within male and female populations that employer prejudice can’t explain. As an example, although married men earn more than married women, single women earn the same or, as they get older, more than single men."

Don't see too much concern about THOSE variations do we? Furthermore:

"There are differences between ethnic groups. Black Caribbean women earn slightly more per hour than black Caribbean men, while Bangladeshi women earn a quarter more than Bangladeshi men. Or consider sexual orientation: gay men earn more per hour on average than “straight” men, while lesbians earn more than heterosexual females. How does that fit the view that labour markets are riddled with discrimination? These pay differentials arise partly from differences in the jobs people do. Few Bangladeshi women work: those who do are well educated and so have jobs where they earn more than the typical male, a third of whom work in restaurants. Gay men are relatively highly educated and concentrated in a narrow range of well-paying jobs. "

On top of that there are other factors, such as risk:

"Men are 1½ times more likely to be made redundant than women and 2½ times more likely to suffer a serious injury at work."

The UK's pay gap is higher than other European countries, but only because of a higher proportion of women in work. Bahrain, Shackleton notes "has a pay gap of about 40% – in favour of women. Very few women, only the educated members of elite families, are in paid work". I doubt whether leftwing feminists would regard that to be a role model country.

As British "Equality Minister" Harriet Harman said, her new "equality bill" will be about "empowering the resentful". Surely public policy can be on a basis of evidence and rational analysis, not the anger of aging socialist feminist politicians?

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