Jon Elster on the lack of gender analysis in the labour theory of value

Sustaining Total War – Women in World War One

Why is the Swedish gender wage gap so stubbornly stable (and high)?

The Swedes are supposed to be in a left-wing utopia. Welfare state, ample childcare and long maternity leave but their gender wage gap is almost as bad as in 1980. They must be a misogynist throwback.

swedish gender wage gap by percentile

Maybe Megan McArdle can explain:

There are countries where more women work than they do here, because of all the mandated leave policies and subsidized childcare — but the U.S. puts more women into management than a place like Sweden, where women work mostly for the government, while the private sector is majority-male.

A Scandinavian acquaintance describes the Nordic policy as paying women to leave the home so they can take care of other peoples’ aged parents and children. This description is not entirely fair, but it’s not entirely unfair, either; a lot of the government jobs involve coordinating social services that women used to provide as homemakers.

The Swedes pay women not to pursue careers. The subsidies from government from mixing motherhood  and work are high. Albrecht et al., (2003) hypothesized that the generous parental leave a major in the glass ceiling in Sweden based on statistical discrimination:

Employers understand that the Swedish parental leave system gives women a strong incentive to participate in the labour force but also encourages them to take long periods of parental leave and to be less flexible with respect to hours once they return to work. Extended absence and lack of flexibility are particularly costly for employers when employees hold top jobs. Employers therefore place relatively few women in fast-track career positions.

Women, even those who would otherwise be strongly career-oriented, understand that their promotion possibilities are limited by employer beliefs and respond rationally by opting for more family-friendly career paths and by fully utilizing their parental leave benefits. The equilibrium is thus one of self-confirming beliefs.

Women may “choose” family-friendly jobs, but choice reflects both preferences and constraints. Our argument is that what is different about Sweden (and the other Scandinavian countries) is the constraints that women face and that these constraints – in the form of employer expectations – are driven in part by the generosity of the parental leave system

Most countries have less generous family subsidies so Claudia Goldin’s usual explanation applies to their falling gender wage gaps

Quite simply the gap exists because hours of work in many occupations are worth more when given at particular moments and when the hours are more continuous. That is, in many occupations earnings have a nonlinear relationship with respect to hours. A flexible schedule comes at a high price, particularly in the corporate, finance and legal worlds.

Changing labour supply composition and the supply of work-life balance by employers

The growing number of women in the workforce and the domination of women of the graduate labour supply will increase the incentive of employers to make the workplace more family-friendly. Those that do not will lose access to the majority of graduate and other talent.

Various work place amenities can be traded-off in salary packages. In industries and occupations where this is cheap to do, the wage offset will be least. These industries and occupations will attract a large number of women because the net returns to them in cash wages plus amenities is higher than for men who value the greater work life balance less.

share-of-labor-force-with-part-time-jobs-women-men_chartbuilder

Occupational segregation around the clock illustrates the delicate trade-off between cash wages and the costs of flexible hours. Men and women work in much the same occupations between 8 and 6. There are big gaps if you are an early starter or work over dinner time.

Changing the production processes of these industries to induce more women to work unsocial hours would require large reduction in production and pay. Fewer women will not enter occupations with more unsocial hours unless they are paid more than in other jobs where it is cheaper to provide work-life balance and still pay higher cash wages.

Occupations and industries where family friendliness is more costly will be male dominated because women qualified enough to enter these occupations will go elsewhere where the cash wages sacrifice is less for work-life balance. Influxes of women will occur in industries where technological trends lower the cost of work-life amenities and the growing number of female skilled workers forces employers’ hands. They must adapt or lose out in competition for talent. The large influx of women into male dominated higher skilled occupations and professions suggests that some occupations can provide work-life balance at a lower cost than others.

The traditional drivers of occupational segregation

The main drivers of female occupational choice are supply-side (Chiswick 2006, 2007). This self-selection of females into occupations with more durable human capital, and into more general educations and more mobile training that allows women to change jobs more often and move in and out of the workforce at less cost to earning power and skills sets.

Chiswick (2006) and Becker (1985, 1993) then suggest that these supply side choices about education and careers are made against a background of a gendered division of labour and effort in the home, and in particular, in housework and the raising of children. These choices in turn reflect how individual preferences and social roles are formed and evolve in society.

gender pay gap in the OECD

These adaptations of women to the operation of the labour market, in turn, reflect a gendered division of labour and household effort in raising families and the accidents of birth as to who has these roles (Chiswick 2006, 2007; Becker 1981, 1985, 1993).

The market is operating fairly well in terms of rewarding what skills and talents people bring to it in light of a gendered division of labour and household effort and the accidents of birth. The issue is one of distributive justice about how these skills and family commitments are allocated and should be allocated outside the market between men and women when raising children. As in related areas such as racial and ethnic wage and employment gaps, these gaps are driven by differences in the skills and talents that people acquired prior to entering the labour market. …

Women and WW II – Rosie the Riveter

The gender commuting gap between mothers and fathers

The first three bars in each cluster of bars are for men. in almost all countries mothers with dependent children spend less time commuting than childless women. This might suggest that working mothers have found workplaces closer to home than women without children. The gender gap in commuting where it is present in the country is larger than the gap between mothers and other women in their commuting time.

image

Source: OECD Family Database – OECD, Table LMF2.6.A.

Time spent in paid and unpaid work across the OECD by gender

image

Data extracted on 28 Jul 2016 05:17 UTC (GMT) from OECD.Stat via OECD Employment Outlook 2016.

% women age 25 to 54 working full-time in USA, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark

To account for full-time work being 35 hours per week in some countries but 40 hours others I have included both in the chart below. Not many Dutch women work full-time.

image

Data extracted on 11 Mar 2016 14:08 UTC (GMT) from OECD.Stat.

Child poverty, @jacindaardern and what higher wages cannot buy

The Left thinks the solution to poverty is giving the poor more money because poverty is caused by the poor not having enough money.

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern introduced the exception in an op-ed in the Sunday Star Times. People are poor because they do not have enough money unless that is because of a lack of money because you are not married or not living with the father of the child.

Ardern was raging against a report by Lindsey Mitchell arguing that a major driver of child poverty is the breakdown of the family and the rise of single parent households. Ardern said that

I’ve spent the better part of six years reading and researching the issue of child poverty, and what we need to do to resolve this complex problem in New Zealand.

And yet here it was, the silver bullet we have all been looking for. Marriage. Getting hitched. Tying the knot. It turns out that we didn’t need an Expert Advisory Group on child poverty, or any OECD analysis for that matter – apparently all we really need is a pastor and a party

Ardern preferred to attribute the increase in child poverty to welfare benefit cuts in the early 1990s.

There is an exception within this exception for the living wage as Ardern says 

But the other factors Family First was so quick to dismiss – low wages and staggering housing costs – mean we have 305,000 children in poverty. And this is the stuff that needs to change. It’s time we faced reality.

A living wage increase can solved family poverty. Actually getting a job and earning a wage does not reduce poverty among single-parent households but living wage increases do for families.

image

Source: Jacinda Ardern: Govt must improve the lot of our children – National – NZ Herald News.

You cannot have it both ways. That low wages cause family poverty but no wages does not.

The best solution to child poverty is to move their parents into a job. Simon Chapple is quite clear in his book last year with Jonathan Boston that.

Sustained full-time employment of sole parents and the fulltime and part-time employment of two parents, even at low wages, are sufficient to pull the majority of children above most poverty lines, given the various existing tax credits and family supports.

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