Gender, Labor, Race

In the latest in of his excellent series of articles on the gender wage gap, Barry over at Ampersand has made a strong case (as if it needed to be made) for the continued existence of gender discrimination in the work place. Here is an excerpt:

What happens if two otherwise identical people, one male and one female, apply for the same job? This is one of the clearest ways of showing discrimination. If discrimination never happens, then otherwise identical men and women would get identical results in the job market.

Of course, in the real world, no two people are ever identical. But researchers can fake it. For instance, economist David Neumark conducted an “audit study.” “The purpose of an audit study is to provide much more direct evidence on discrimination than is provided by other empirical methods.” Male and female job applicants, chosen for similar characteristics, and trained to act in similar ways, applied in pairs for waiter positions in restaurants in Philadelphia. The applicants used fictional resumes that had been designed to show equal qualifications for a waiter position.

…The results? 85% of the job offers from high-price restaurants (where wages are correspondingly high) were made to male job applicants. In contrast, 80% of the job offers from low-price, low-wage restaurants were made to women. This is clear evidence of sex discrimination in employment – evidence which might explain how it is that waitresses in the United States are paid only 75% of what waiters make.

Of course, many of the same arguments made here about gender discrimination also hold true for racial discrimination:

  1. Corrected estimates of the racial wage gap indicate a substantial role for the efficacy of the Civil Rights Act and related initiatives in affecting convergence in segregated states; ignoring selection causes estimates of convergence in the South as well as the within-cohort component of this change to be understated. (2) In contrast to the sharp convergence observed in standard wage series from 1970-90, selectivity corrected estimates indicate complete [relative wage] stagnation…