Eternal Wage Gaps

Mandatory equality failure


Equal pay for equal work seems only fair. So when governments encounter a difference in the average wages of men and women, they often assume invidious discrimination. In 1988, Ontario passed the most comprehensive pay equity legislation in the world, requiring employers to proactively devise and implement programs to eliminate the gender wage gap.

In the Fall 2014 issue of Contemporary Economic Policy, two Lehigh University economists seek to answer the counterfactual question: What would have happened to the wage gap in Ontario if the act hadn't been passed?

To answer it, they employ an algorithm that uses data from other Canadian provinces, including Gross Domestic Product per capita and employment rates, to construct a "synthetic" version of Ontario before and after the law was passed. The only difference between the real Ontario and the synthetic one is the wage gap law. They find that in both Ontarios, the wage gap narrows from 35 percent in 1988 to 30 percent in 2005. In fact, the latter wage gap was slightly smaller in synthetic Ontario.

The researchers conclude that the law "failed to affect women's pay relative to men's in Ontario in any clear, discernible way."

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  1. The law “failed to affect women’s pay relative to men’s in Ontario in any clear, discernible way.”

    Little wonder.

    No doubt most pay-equity advocates think employers are profiteers who’d hire only illegal immigrants for their lower labor cost if they could get away with it. Or who’d relocate to another country to save money. Or replace old workers with young ones for the same reason. So why do these same advocates think employers would NOT hire only women if, as they say, employers DO get away with paying females at a lower rate than males for the same work?

    Sophisticated women often choose to earn less than their male counterparts:

    “In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.” 2012/03/26/bil10326.htm (See also “Female Docs See Fewer Patients, Earn $55,000 Less Than Men” female-docs-see-fewer-patients-172100718.html)

    “…[O]nly 35 percent of women who have earned MBAs after getting a bachelor’s degree from a top school are working full time.” It “is not surprising that women are not showing up more often in corporations’ top ranks.” At Male Matters USA: “Why women are leaving the workforce in record numbres

    A thousand laws won’t close those gaps.

    “Salary Secrecy ? Discrimination Against Women?” at Male Matters USA

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