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Women Getting Even


Today is Equal Pay Day. Or at least a convenient approximation so lefties can feel righteous without making any meaningful sacrifice.

This date symbolizes how far into 2011 women must work to earn what men earned in 2010.

Equal Pay Day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages.

…NCPE leadership decided years ago to select a Tuesday in April as Equal Pay Day. (Tuesday was selected to represent how far into the work week women must work to earn what men earned the previous week.) The date also is selected to avoid avoid religious holidays and other significant events.

It is part of the American mythology that women do not receive equal pay for equal work. The fairytale ignores every factor but one in the complex calculations that determine wages. The work may sometimes actually be equal, but the entirety of circumstances never are. An easy one is the cost of replacing or doing without a female worker unavailable for work due to pregnancy. Men never get pregnant. Employers do not have to incur replacement costs for this biological and statistical unreliablity when they hire men.

There are more layers of American mythology that argue about the value and implications of biological differences. I choose not to delve into that now. But it seems sufficient to note that the “equal pay for equal work” slogan oversimplifies the matter.

But more significant than the obscure factors of employment costs, men and women—as abstracted statistical categories—do not perform equal work.

Economist Mark Perry has made up his own holiday to illustrate:

The next "Equal Occupational Fatality Day" is Sunday October 11, 2020. This date symbolizes how far into the future women are expected to work to experience the same loss of life from work-related deaths that men experienced in just the single year 2008 (4,703 deaths for men compared to only 368 for women), according to BLS data (see chart above). Because women work in much safer occupations and work environments than men, they must work decades longer than men to experience the same number of occupational fatalities. Equal Occupational Fatality Day is being established here as a public awareness event to illustrate the huge gap between men's and women's occupational deaths.

To achieve perfect gender pay equity, there will have to be an increase in the number of women in higher-paying, but higher-risk occupations like fire-fighting and coal mining. That outcome will certainly reduce the gender pay gap, but it will come at a huge cost: sentencing thousands of women per year to certain fatal occupational deaths.

Those who dream of equality can take solace in the notion that we are all equal in death. Men become equal sooner, thanks to the kind of jobs they do. The average American woman gets to mourn an aspect of our alleged culutral unfairness by observing nine extra Equal Pay Days while her male counterpart is eaten by worms.

The genders can never be equal, but women have more years to get even.