Thursday, April 10, 2014

What to Think About that 77 Percent Figure

In all the discussions recently about the wage gap between men and women, the figure 77 cents on the dollar is often cited, including by President Obama this week.

Many commentators (examples: this guy from the Washington Post and Josh Barro on MSNBC) have said the 77 percent number is wrong because it doesn't compare the salaries of people working at the same job. Women take time off to take care of children, women don't go into lucrative careers, and so on, so it's apples and oranges.

Three researchers from the Institute for Women's Policy Research explain here why 77 percent is a reasonable number to use. It's not the most conservative way to look at it, no. But there are lots of other ways to compare wages that come out much worse -- one that finds women earn as little as 38 percent of what men earn.

What the 77 percent number compares is women and men who work full time, all year, including bonuses. It's not the only way to talk about it, but it is a reasonable way.

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