Deaths, Injuries and the the Gender Gap in Pay
by Mike Kimel
Deaths, Injuries and the the Gender Gap in Pay
A few days ago, Glassdoor.com released a report (Demystifying the Gender Pay Gap) looking at the gender gap in pay, which they claim is about 24%. That is, women make about 76 cents for every dollar made by men. Glassdoor also indicates that adjusting for education, years of experience, location, job title, and job type, the gender gap in the US drops to about 5.4%, which means adjusting for the aforementioned factors, women in the US make about 94.6 cents for every dollar earned by men.
Figure 1. Glassdoor’s Gender Gap
I skimmed through the report, and two obvious things missing (admittedly hard for Glassdoor.com to capture) from the analysis are death and injury. Men are more likely to get injured or even die on the job. This is true even for the same job.
For example, consider the most white collar office workplace with which you are familiar. Every so often, it is decided that some file cabinet, or some other heavy equipment has to be moved, and it just isn’t worth the requisition or the wait to have someone come up from Maintenance and move it. Regardless of the gender composition of the hyper white-collar workers at the workplace, what is the gender composition of the subgroup that moves the stuff? Because in the one time out of a thousand that something falls on someone, that’s the gender composition of those who will get hurt or worse.
For what its worth, I’ve been doing white collar work for close to twenty years in a variety of locations, and I’ve been one of the designated movers of some heavy items at least once every year in that career. I’ve worked at places where just where women outnumbered men and just about everyone was a self-described feminist, and places where men outnumbered women and held attitudes reminiscent of the 1950s. Without exception (and I do mean without exception), when it came time to move heavy stuff, the gender profile of those doing the moving of the stuff was exactly the same.
Enough anecdotes. Let’s try to quantify this differential in injuries and deaths. We can start by looking at the number of men and women in the workforce, which is among the really cool data available in Figure 2 below:
Figure 2 copied from: http://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/cps/womensearnings_2008.pdf
Figure 3 shows deaths for injury at work for various years through 2009. However, the 2009 data is incomplete, so we’ll use the 2008 data.
Figure 3 copied from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr60/nvsr60_03_tables.pdf#tabs10,
What are deaths from injury at work? Well, from a different year (2011), those looked like this:
Figure 4 from: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfch0010.pdf
Divide the number of employed by the number of fatalities from workplace injuries and you get a death rate from work, which for women is 7.9 * 10^-6, and for men is 7.3 * 10^-5. Put another way, work injuries are 9.2 times more likely to claim the lives of men than of women.
But… this isn’t quite right. Take a look at the graph below:
Figure 5 from: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfch0010.pdf
According to this graph, death by homicide is more likely for women than for men, but according to the next graph below, from the same source, a 38% of work related homicides of women involve a relative or a domestic partner. For men, that figure is 2%.
A this point, I believe a rational person has to take issue with the data. Being murdered by a relative while at work is no more a “work injury” than dying in a terrorist bomb blast while eating a meal at a restaurant can be considered food poisoning.
So… the number of homicides of women has to be reduced by 38% (i.e., percent of homicides of women while at work that were committed by a relative or domestic partner) of 20% (i.e., percent of women dying of homicide), or about 14.44%. By contrast, for men, the equivalent is 0.18%.
Reducing the 2008 deaths of women at the office by 14.44%, and of men by 0.18%, gives us an adjusted work-induced death rate of 6.76 * 10^-6 for women, and 7.25 * 10^-5 for men. (Yes, I know we’re mixing years, 2011 and 2008, but presumably the percentages are very similar.) Put another way, on average, a working man is 10.7 times more likely to be killed by his job than a working woman is to be killed by her job.
But I don’t think this is the whole story. After all, the injury related deaths don’t include heart attacks, strokes, and other deaths that occur at the office, and a) at least some portion of those heart attacks and strokes are truly work-induced, and b), anecdotally, at least, it would appear more men die from from these causes at the office than women. But that is hard to quantify.
I would also note, however, this (Occupational injuries, illnesses,
and fatalities among women ):
WOMEN HAVE EXPERIENCED far fewer occupational injuries
and illnesses than their hours worked would suggest. Even more
disparate in relation to employment hours was the female share
of occupational fatalities. Female injuries, illnesses, and fatalities
are not only disproportionately low; they also differ from male
This post is starting to get long, and I am nowhere close to the punchline yet, so let me end by saying I will follow up this post with an estimate of how the cost of deaths and injuries relates to the gender pay gap.
I like that the adjustments include “job title” and “job type” (I assume “job description” not reality based actual work done). Job titles and job descriptions are how women’s pay gets adjusted downwards all the time. So those are really bogus adjustments, just as meritocracy is a bogus description of work place inequities
An interesting post; but …
Once you start trying to break down the different categories into work/pay-related and not, where do you stop? For example, suppose more men are idiots who have risky behavior than women (which is my anecdotal experience). Would that be a reason to pay them more? Maybe women are better at handling stress. Would that be a reason to pay them less?
I think (I could be wrong) that you start with the presumption that if the work the business is paying for is the same (and done as well) the pay should be the same.
However the corrected 5.4% difference doesn’t seem terribly bad to me. I expect it to get better over time as there are more women doing the hiring and salary adjustments, but it is getting within sight of the noise range.
As perhaps the most prominent of the VSL skeptics, let me throw in one small factoid at this point: most occupational diseases are not included in occupational morbidity and mortality statistics. A common rule of thumb is that mortality attributable to occ diseases outnumber those due to injury by about an order of magnitude. This means (1) we don’t have even approximate statistical evidence for the OSH risk faced by women compared to men (or by other categorical distinctions, like race) and (2) statistical attempts to measure VSL from labor market data suffer from very large and unknowable errors in variables.
I might say a few words about hedonic adjustments to the male-female pay gap later, after you go there (which you’ve sort of promised to do).
Men are silly. If they’d just wear pantyhose and high heels to work, they wouldn’t be singled out to move heavy objects.
It goes the other way too. Consider two recent examples that have been in the news. In one, members of the US Women’s Soccer team have sued for discrimination since they were compensated less than members of the US men’s team despite being more successful in their respective leagues. The reason there are separate leagues for men and women as opposed to a single league made up of both men and women in soccer (and basketball and football and most other sports) is that at the levels at which the professionals play, women are not competitive with men at those activities. Every so often there are rumors a woman will play for the NBA, for instance, so there are no rules fixing gender in the NBA, unlike, say, in the WNBA. I don’t watch basketball or baeball at all, but I imagine reason WNBA gets less respect than the NBA is for the same reason that a farm team in baseball gets less respect than a major league team in baseball: in general, the teams and players in one are not competitive with the teams and players in the first. People prefer to watch the best player at something than one who isn’t as good.
Interestingly enough, there are Lady’s leagues in Poker and Chess too.
Another recent case of the “same title” and even “same job description” involves firefighters. If male and female meet different physical standards to get and maintain the job, when it comes time to break into a burning building and pull victims out, the average male and the average female may well be performing to very, very different standards despite identical job titles and descriptions.
“I think (I could be wrong) that you start with the presumption that if the work the business is paying for is the same (and done as well) the pay should be the same.”
I tend to agree. But if it was generally accepted throughout the land that left handed people would always be the ones to handle moving the heavy equipment regardless of their job title and job description, then in general, left handed people and right handed people are not doing the exact same job.
I may have bitten off more than I can chew. This is not anywhere close to my area of expertise, and I know a lot of competent people have dedicated a lot of time and energy to this sort of thing. But I’ll see what I can do. It will take a bit of time but I hope to produce something.
This is interesting: ” members of the US Women’s Soccer team have sued for discrimination since they were compensated less than members of the US men’s team despite being more successful in their respective leagues.”
“More successful” means, according to Business Insider” the women’s team generated more revenue than the men in 2015. However, based on the US Soccer Federation’s own projections, the women are expected to generate more money than the men in both 2016 and 2017.” Those of us who aren’t economists tend to think that owners, managers, and others who control capital value the highest contribution to the financial bottom line. Instead, selflessly, they are monetarily rewarding the best players that people prefer to watch, over the players that people for some really obscure reason pay more to watch.
If the point of the two teams is to play better soccer, then it comes down to whether the women’s team can beat the men’s team, and I don’t think anyone out there believes that it would be a competitive game.
On the other hand, if the point of the two soccer teams can be described in its entirety as “to attract paying eyeballs in the US” then all else being equal, whichever group does that better should be paid more. Rhonda Rousey, before her loss, might not have been able to put up a competitive fight against any highly ranked male in a similar weight class, but if she brought in the eyeballs (whether due to the persona she cultivated, curiosity, or whatever reason), she deserved to be paid accordingly.
Let us stipulate here that the goal is to bring in revenues and not to generate the best possible soccer team. A few things that are swept into the “all else being equal” rug that have to be considered, in that case, include:
1. How are the contracts structured? If the women are more risk averse, and their league (union?) signed a more conservative contract with more money guaranteed and less money at risk, then it makes no sense to complain that there was less upside possible. From your link, women get paid $72K base plus a $1,3250 bonus per win. Men apparently get paid per game $5K plus $3,1666 for a win, meaning men are paid more for winning three ways: by winning, they play more games (each additional game is $5K), plus the game bonus, plus the per diem. A man who gets cut from the team loses more than a woman who gets cut from the team, and a man who is a starter on every game wins more than a woman who is a starter on every team.
2. It isn’t clear from your article, but it seems likely that $5K per game means “if you are called up to play (or at least sit on the bench) at a particular game.” $72K flat rate seems to apply to anyone named to the team at the start of the season, regardless of how they perform. Thus, another way that men seem (to my reading of the article) seem to have chosen to have to have more at risk here.
3. There is also the question of what other moneys do the teams bring in? For instance, if part of the benefit to a soccer team is some amount of revenue sharing among teams that make the world cup, and the men’s world cup attracts many times the viewership and money than the women’s world cup, which apparently is the case, that money needs to be taken into account.
4. Finally, all else being equal includes planning for the future. Soccer leagues try to invest in the future, and if one of the two teams plays in a league that generates more total eyeballs and will continue to do so in the future, then it makes sense to invest in that team.
Anyway, to the best of my knowledge, so far we have heard from one side in the lawsuit. I assume both will have the opportunity to air each other’s dirty laundry going forward until we are tired of hearing from everyone involved.
I guess I should stop being oblique. It seems to me that you are engaged in a common exercise — explaining that discrimination doesn’t really exist. Across the overwhelming majority of all job categories, women are paid less than men. We fans of Occam’s razor think there’s a clear reason for that. Fans of the belief that there’s no significant discrimination search through to find the unique reason in each job category that the same characteristic (lower pay for women) exists. When you conjured up the picture of a supervisor thinking, “Systems Analyst Joe Johnson gets a raise because he did a great job moving a file cabinet last summer,” I sort of thought the humor of it all would be obvious (funny as the post was, I can hardly wait for the punch line which is sure to be hilarious). I must concede that you share your belief with the majority of the Supreme Court, who decided that women employees of Walmart did not constitute a class, although they were lower paid and more rarely promoted at every job level. Every one of them is an individual who surely provided a unique reason for lower pay and promotion.
The justification for the way we pay individuals is that the individuals are paid according to rational, objective principles. This slips easily into the belief that an individual who is paid more is worth more financially to the employer. Furthermore, the individual is enjoying the fruits of merit; he deserves more. It’s all objective, rational, and therefore inevitable. However, this view requires voluntary blindness to reality.
Economics isn’t a natural science. It’s a set of political assumptions. Worth more? Deserve more? Across the society, men are worth more than women. Whites are worth more than blacks. Middle and upper-class persons are worth more than working class persons. And so in each case they deserve more. Those are all political choices to maintain a system of selective privilege.
To the extent that we’re not comfortable with the facts of unequal and inequitable access that each of us may have to resources, we should work on developing systems that we find better. The alternative is efforts such as what I’m seeing in your post to ferret out the “objective” reason why the access is unequal but is not inequitable.
Mike is an even handed person. I would say he does believe discrimination exists. I believe you are reading too much into his comments.
Sigh. I come back after a few hours and find someone has torn my Komsomol card torn to shreds and is demanding that my Party membership revoked. And over what? Pointing out that men die on the job an order of magnitude more frequently than women, and that the women’s national soccer team would likely lose to the men’s national soccer team?
My suspicion is that accounting for factors such as injuries will, at most, show that the hourly or weekly hourly wage differential is smaller than simple wage rates indicate, but there isn’t enough publicly available data to solve the apples to oranges problem. If that makes me one of the kulaks in your book, I can live with it.
To be very precise…. I am mid-career. It is very clear to me that (in general) women in their 60s today have had their careers stunted because when they began, there were definitely career paths for women, and those career paths did not include the opportunities for advancement that men from the same cohort had. Even small differences in opportunity become magnified over a 40+ year career, and the differences in opportunity were not large.
On the other hand, I am not so certain that the data would show similar trajectory discrepancies for people at the start of their career now or over the past decade or so. (I am open to being proven wrong, and I am playing with some data right now.) HR departments these days have the laudable goal of being very attuned to discrepancies that cannot be supported by some combination of performance and path dependence.
Slowly closing the door on mine and preparing to take on a role of consulting to a Korean company. It is more of a fun role.
I do not see HR in the same light. I think of them as more of the yes types who wouldn’t see an issue even if it bit them and are wary of controversy. There are reasons women are underpaid. Much of it is the result of being a working mom trying to support the family in the two-income trap and even more so when single. Management always takes advantage of this.
I listened to the Germans tell me to bring the blond because she was cute and then grill me as to whether the not-so-attractive house frau was technically capable of supporting Purchasing systems. Hell yea, lose her and we are doomed. SAP systems person making $24,000 annually. Got her up to $42,000. In my warehouse I had a bunch of married and single moms planning and releasing parts in a $200 million function (all mine) and making $24,000 to $35,000. By the time I left there, it was more like $35,000 to $46,000. Labor is cheap when compared to Inventory and Overhead. There is always a way.
Did I have a different path? Yea, I did. I just happened to take some time and sprinkle some of that success around where I could. I could have been much higher in the management level if I kept my mouth shut.
Urg… “and the differences in opportunity were, in fact, large.”
Need to consider height, too. Tall men earn more than short men, and tall women earn more than short women.
Being short, I am aware of that. Alas I tend to like data and objective information is hard to find.
My experience with HR departments in corporations with more than 50 employees in the United States is that they tend to police issues involving discrimination of protected classes (I believe that is the correct HR terminology) extremely rigorously. Sensitivity training tends to occur at least yearly, and tends to be required of all personnel in the company. I am also familiar with cases of people losing their jobs or otherwise being reprimanded when their behavior failed to live up to the corporate goals described in the sensitivity training. Simply put, there is little tolerance of behavior that was acceptable and open only a few decades ago.
Boy, stories to tell which I would not share here of the seventies and being young in a large corporation.