University of Georgia Study Suggests the Gender Wage Gap Is Not as Great as Generally Reported

Researchers at the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia have conducted a study on wage levels of men and women over the past 30 years. They found that the gender wage gap is actually smaller than is portrayed in most studies and has shrunk faster than is generally believed.

One reason for the discrepancy is that when surveyed, men tend to over-report their earnings, more so than women. Also both men and women tend to underestimate the earnings of other people. So, in a government survey, if a husband was reporting his wages and those of his wife, generally he would over-report his own earnings and under-report those of his wife. This would produce a larger gender wage gap than is actually the case.

Using government reports and a control group, researchers were able to determine that the gender wage gap closed by 22 percent from 1979 to 2009. This is greater than the 16 percent decline in official government reports.

The authors state that a significant gender gap in wages of about $6 per hour remains. They point out that tracking reporting effects of wage estimates is important in gaining a true picture of the actual differences.

The article, “He Said, She Said: The Gender Wage Gap According to Self and Proxy Reports in the Current Population Survey,” is published in the March issue of Social Science Research. The article can be purchased here.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study


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