News Flash: Sex Discrimination is Finished
Economists have known for a long time that discrimination per se accounts for relatively minor part of the wage differences between men and women. By far the largest factor is the impact of children on people’ work/life decisions. Children affect men and women differently. This was already very apparent in data when I started in economics back in the 1970’s.
Now, here is a story from USA Today that demonstrates that the process of wiping out labor market discrimination is complete:
Single, childless women in their twenties are finding success in the city: They’re out-earning their male counterparts in the USA’s biggest metropolitan areas.
Women ages 22 to 30 with no husband and no kids earn a median $27,000 a year, 8% more than comparable men in the top 366 metropolitan areas, according to 2008 U.S. Census Bureau data crunched by the New York research firm Reach Advisors and released Wednesday. The women out-earn men in 39 of the 50 biggest cities and match them in another eight. The disparity is greatest in Atlanta, where young, childless single women earn 21% more than male counterparts.
Take away the impact of children, and voila! No more wage difference. In fact, women earn more than men.
The trouble is that earning money is not the only thing in life that people care about. Women in particular, would like to have children and husbands. We have put all our public policy attention, legal and social, on equalizing wages, and have given little attention to building long-lasting relationships. So now, women earn as much as men. But more and more women are raising children alone, and are spending larger and larger portions of their lives alone.