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Investigating the female/male earnings gap

As a result of changes in law and culture, women began to enter the paid workforce in substantial numbers in the mid- to late-twentieth century. By 2014, 58.1% of adult women held jobs while 72.0% of adult men did. Moreover, along with entering the workforce, women began to ratchet up their education levels. In 1971, 44% of undergraduate college degrees went to women; by 2014, women received 56% of bachelor’s degrees. In 1970, women received 5.4% of the degrees from law schools and 8.4% of the degrees from medical schools. By 2014, women were receiving 47% of the law degrees and 48.0% of the medical degrees. These gains in education and experience have reduced the female/male wage gap over time. However, concerns remain about the extent to which women have not yet assumed a substantial share of the positions at the top of the largest companies or in the U.S. Congress.

There are factors that can lower women’s average wages. Women are likely to bear a disproportionately large share of household responsibilities. A mother of young children is more likely to drop out of the labor force for several years or work on a reduced schedule than is the father. As a result, women in their 30s and 40s are likely, on average, to have less job experience than men. In the United States, childless women with the same education and experience levels as men are typically paid comparably. However, women with families and children are typically paid about 7% to 14% less than other women of similar education and work experience. (Meanwhile, married men earn about 10% to 15% more than single men with comparable education and work experience.)

The different patterns of family responsibilities possibly could be called discrimination, but it is primarily rooted in America’s social patterns of discrimination, which involve the roles that fathers and mothers play in child-rearing, rather than discrimination by employers in hiring and salary decisions.

Visit this website to read more about the persistently low numbers of women in executive roles in business and in the U.S. Congress.

Investigating the black/white earnings gap

Blacks experienced blatant labor market discrimination during much of the twentieth century. Until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 , it was legal in many states to refuse to hire a black worker, regardless of the credentials or experience of that worker. Moreover, blacks were often denied access to educational opportunities, which in turn meant that they had lower levels of qualifications for many jobs. At least one economic study has shown that the 1964 law is partially responsible for the narrowing of the gap in black–white earnings in the late 1960s and into the 1970s; for example, the ratio of total earnings of black male workers to white male workers rose from 62% in 1964 to 75.3% in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, the earnings gap between black and white workers has not changed as much as the earnings gap between men and women has in the last half century. The remaining racial gap seems related both to continuing differences in education levels and to the presence of discrimination. [link] shows that the percentage of blacks who complete a four-year college degree remains substantially lower than the percentage of whites who complete college. According to the U.S. Census, both whites and blacks have higher levels of educational attainment than Hispanics and lower levels than Asians. The lower average levels of education for black workers surely explain part of the earnings gap. In fact, black women who have the same levels of education and experience as white women receive, on average, about the same level of pay. One study shows that white and black college graduates have identical salaries immediately after college; however, the racial wage gap widens over time, an outcome that suggests the possibility of continuing discrimination. Another study conducted a field experiment by responding to job advertisements with fictitious resumes with either very African American sounding names or very white sounding names and found out that white names received 50 percent more callbacks for interviews. This is suggestive of discrimination in job opportunities. Further, as the following Clear It Up feature explains, there is evidence to support that discrimination in the housing market is connected to employment discrimination.

Questions & Answers

What is the law of demand
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ERNESTINA
The study of resource allocation,distribution and consumption.
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Random Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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