Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Short Posts, 12/4/18. Dante's Inferno Misread, Hate Crimes, Another Measure of Gender Gap in Earnings And Mueller Dancing

1. This is beautiful

In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself astray in a dark wood
where the straight road had been lost sight of.
How hard it is to say what it was like
in the thick of thickets, in a wood so dense
and gnarled
the very thought of it renews my panic.
It is bitter almost as death itself is bitter.

Dante's Inferno Canto I, translated by Seamus Heaney 

I first misread the top two lines in that translated bit of Dante's Inferno as:

In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself in an ash tray in a dark wood.

So it goes.  That reading is more appropriate for me, and not only because of my warped sense of humor.

My approach to doing feminist analysis and criticism (attacking essentialist thinking) is not terribly popular, these days,  so maybe it is now found in the ash tray of history!   And sometimes I do feel alone and lost in a dark wood of gnarled pseudo-theories and thick thickets of contradictory definitions where the very thought of challenging them renews my panic, because of that lonely feeling, battle fatigue,  and the high emotional stakes on all sides in those battles.

Never mind.  I am the Goddess of Gloom today.

2. Statistics on hate crimes in Canada show a large recent increase.  Some of that could be due to more reporting of crimes that have happened, some could be an actual increase in such crimes in this era of rising right-wing populism.  This table gives more detailed data.  It's odd that misogyny is not one of the major classes in that table, but I may not understand where the Canadian government's statistical system stows data on hate crimes against women.

3.  Stephen J. Rose and Heidi I. Hartmann have produced a report on the earnings comparisons between women and men over longer time periods than one year and not restricted to full-time workers.*

Most gender gap analyses compare full-time workers' annual earnings .  There are good reasons, of course, to standardize for working hours in this manner when we are trying to find out if some part of the gender gap in earnings between men and women is due to labor market discrimination.

Those who work more hours will obviously earn more as a total paycheck, and standardizing for hours or weeks or months worked per year ensures that we remove that (possibly nondiscriminatory) reason for earnings differences from our analyses.

But it's also good to see how the traditional division of labor within households affects women's and men's overall earnings, and that is what Rose and Hartmann do by analyzing women's and men's average earnings over a fifteen-year span** without controlling for the time spent working. 

They find that it's still more common for women than for men to be weakly attached to the labor force***.  In particular, during the most recent fifteen-year span they analyzed (from 2001 to 2015),  59 percent of men but only 28 percent of women worked persistently full-time, and 43 percent of the women but only 23 percent of the men in the sample had had at least one year with no earnings.

The effect of women's weaker labor market attachment (which is largely caused by their greater childcare and other domestic responsibilities and the cultural norms which create those responsibilities) is considerable in financial terms:  The average earnings of women over that most recent fifteen-year span were only 49 percent of the average earnings of men.

Oddly, these findings are not quite as dismal as they look at first glance (i.e., when we compare them to the more familiar gender gap between full-time working men and women which tells us that women in full-time work earn, on average, 80% of what men in full-time work earn).  If we compare them to similar analyses done for earlier fifteen-year-periods, we see a reduction of the long-term gender gap:

Rose and Hartmann compared these most recent findings to findings from two earlier fifteen-year spans, the first from 1968 to 1982 and the second from 1983 to 1997. In the first period women's earnings over the fifteen years averaged to just 19 percent of men's earnings, but that figure rose in the second fifteen-year-period to 38 percent, and in the third fifteen-year-period to 49 percent.

Nevertheless, these findings point at one of the main reasons why women earn less than men over their lifetimes.  They also lead Rose and Hartmann to propose certain policies (pp 19-20), such as support for women to enter traditionally male occupations which pay better, support for unionization which is linked to higher earnings levels, stricter enforcement of equal pay laws, more sharing of domestic chores between men and women, and public subsides for good quality child care and elder care, both tasks which are culturally assigned to women and which result in labor market losses for them.

4.  And to end this post, back to something beautiful:


*  Its main focus is on labor market attachment which differs between men and women though women's labor market attachment has increased over the last forty years the researchers have studied.  The data in the linked article does not provide disaggregated analyses of women and men by ethnic group or race, though it mentions that African-American women have the strongest labor market attachment among all women, while the labor market attachment levels of Asian-American women, Hispanic women and non-Hispanic white women have been lower and still lag the level of African-American women.

** The analysis is limited to people who had some positive earnings during that fifteen-year span.

*** Being less attached to the labor force is not the only possible reason for those differences, because women could also be fired more readily and/or find more trouble getting rehired.  But it is clearly one central piece in the puzzle why women earn less over their lifetimes.