Sunday, August 08, 2004

Why do men earn more?

Janet Albrechtsen wrote a fine column for The Australian a couple of weeks ago. It explains that the reason why men's wages eventually outstrip those of women is that many women choose to work part-time so that they have a better opportunity to look after their families.

She gives the actual figures. In May 2004 there were 1,026,000 women in the Australian workforce who were partnered and had children. Of these a large majority worked part-time: there were 622,000 part-timers compared to 404,000 full-time workers. In stark contrast the overwhelming majority of men who were partnered and had children worked full time: almost 1,500,000 million full-timers compared to just 93,000 part-time workers.

The women were not forced to work part-time rather than full-time, they wanted to. The same survey which collected the May 2004 statistics asked women if they wanted to work more hours and 80% replied no.

Janet Albrechtsen concludes that "women's preferences for part-time work or just less work or different work than men, with its inevitable consequences for promotion and pay, is a choice, not the result of partriarchal oppression."

Nor, of course, should the average non-feminist woman be so worried about the higher male rate of earnings anyway. Those 1,500,000 million men working full-time are not sending their money off to a private Swiss bank account to be used for their own luxury spending. They are earning money to support their families. In other words, the money goes back to their wives anyway.

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