Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why Young Male Doctors Earn Much Higher Incomes Than Young Female Doctors

By Thomas Sowell

The "war on women" political slogan is in fact a war against common sense.

It is a statistical fraud when
Barack Obama and other politicians say that women earn only 77 percent of what men earn — and that this is because of discrimination.

It would certainly be discrimination if women were doing the same work as men, for the same number of hours, with the same amount of training and experience, as well as other things being the same. But study after study, over the past several decades, has shown repeatedly that those things are not the same.

Constantly repeating the "77 percent" statistic does not make them the same. It simply takes advantage of many people's ignorance — something that Barack Obama has been very good at doing on many other issues.

What if you compare women and men who are the same on all the relevant characteristics?

First of all, you can seldom do that, because the statistics you would need are not always available for the whole range of occupations and the whole range of differences between women's patterns and men's patterns in the labor market.

Even where relevant statistics are available, careful judgment is required to pick samples of women and men who are truly comparable.

For example, some women are mothers and some men are fathers. But does the fact that they are both parents make them comparable in the labor market? Actually the biggest disparity in incomes is between fathers and mothers. Nor is there anything mysterious about this, when you stop and think about it.

How surprising is it that women with children do not earn as much as women who do not have children? If you don't think children take up a mother's time, you just haven't raised any children.

How surprising is it that men with children earn more than men without children, just the opposite of the situation with women? Is it surprising that a man who has more mouths to feed is more likely to work longer hours? Or take on harder or more dangerous jobs, in order to earn more money?

More than 90 percent of the people who are killed on the job are men. There is no point pretending that there are no differences between what women do and what men do in the workplace, or that these differences don't affect income.

During my research on male-female differences for my book Economic Facts and Fallacies, I was amazed to learn that young male doctors earned much higher incomes than young female doctors. But it wasn't so amazing after I discovered that young male doctors worked over 500 hours more per year than young female doctors.

Even when women and men work at jobs that have the same title — whether doctors, lawyers, economists or whatever — people do not get paid for what their job title is, but for what they actually do.

Women lawyers who are pregnant, or who have young children, may have good reasons to prefer a 9 to 5 job in a government agency to working 60 hours a week in a high-powered law firm. But there is no point comparing male lawyers as a group with female lawyers as a group, if you don't look any deeper than job titles.

Unless, of course, you are not looking for the truth, but for political talking points to excite the gullible.

Even when you compare women and men with the "same" education, as measured by college or university degrees, the women usually specialize in a very different mix of subjects, with very different income-earning potential.

Although comparing women and men who are in fact comparable is not easy to do, when you look at women and men who are similar on multiple factors, the sex differential in pay shrinks drastically and gets close to the vanishing point. In some categories, women earn more than men with the same range of characteristics.

If the 77 percent statistic was for real, employers would be paying 30 percent more than they had to, every time they hired a man to do a job that a woman could do just as well. Would employers be such fools with their own money? If you think employers don't care about paying 30 percent more than they have to, just go ask your boss for a 30 percent raise!

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is author of Intellectuals and Raceand Economic Facts and Fallacies


  1. Even if they acknowledge these facts, then the moaning is about how "society" doesn't value what women do enough, and therefore govt should do something to change that. Without any recognition of how markets come up with that valuation. Nor any recognition of what govt does to skew that valuation, like the Fed's policies and the growth of the finance sector, or other govt policies that drive the huge lawyer and accountant sectors.

    Some people will just never open themselves up to the truth and objective evidence.

  2. Would employers be such fools with their own money? Discrimination is irrational behavior. You are assuming the employers are not irrational which means you are assuming they are not discriminating. Article fails again.

    1. Re: Jerry Wolfgang,
      -- Would employers be such fools with their own money? --

      No, which is why the notion that employers are sexist is ludicrous. But I have the feeling this is not your conclusion.

      -- Discrimination is irrational behavior. --

      No, it is not. Discrimination is an action, it stems from CHOICE, and CHOICE is ALWAYS rational Discrimination simply means choosing one thing from a collection of things. I discriminated among millions of women when choosing the one I wanted. Employers discriminate among a slew of candidates when choosing only one for the position.

      But I don't have to explain this to you every time, JW, because I have the feeling you just don't care about concepts, preferring to be simplistic and equate "discrimination" with "sexism" or "racism". You will continue to be your old boring self.

      -- You are assuming the employers are not irrational which means you are assuming they are not discriminating. --

      And... you're begging the question. Again.


    2. Irrational behavior at that degree- a potential 20% discount- would be an irresistible niche for an entrepreneur to fill.

      Too bad you're too stupid to even see how stupid you are.

    3. Come on Jerry, that was weak. You can usually do better than that. If you can't spot what joke this legislation is, I really don't think you are all that intelligent. My high school kids (both girls) can understand what a joke the Presidents proposal is -- and not from me, it was discussed in their political science class at their public high school. I have no problem if you don't agree with libertarian economic philosophy and support the left leaning economic policy instead, but at least stop being a water carrier for the wealthy elite who stand to benefit from this divisive, politically driven fraudulent legislation. Think of the working class people that will be punished by it through the unintended consequences that will result.

    4. JW: The light of my life.

  3. Jerry Wolfgang discriminates every day in his personal life, but if I do it I am "irrational." A philosopher king wanna be. What a joke!

    Everyone discriminates more or less everyday of their life. Anyone who suggest otherwise is just being ridiculous.