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May 24 2016

Barone: Clinton Would Make Pay Gap Bigger

Charlotte Hays

Hillary Clinton's pitch to women is likely going to be her best hope to become president.

So she will be making frequent use of the highly misleading and frequently debunked 77 cents gender wage gap in campaign rhetoric (according to which, a woman earns only 77 cents on the dollar to what a man in a comparable job makes). This is typical of the way she frames the issues for women:

This injustice, she says, must be remedied by government. "Last time I checked," Clinton told an event sponsored by a salary site called Glassdoor, "there's no discount for being a woman. Groceries don't cost us less, rent doesn't cost us less, so why should we be paid less?"

The only problem here--as IWF has long maintained and as Michael Barone explains in a column--Clinton's big government policies would make the gender wage gap bigger, not smaller.

First, Barone addresses the matter of the 77 cents statistic:

There is, as you might expect, a simple answer for that, which is that the 77 to 79 cents numbers are misleading. Women are being paid less than men almost entirely because, as my Washington Examiner colleague Ashe Schow writes, "The average working woman works in a lower-paying field and works fewer hours each week than the average working man."

Don't just take her word for it. Listen to Obama staffer Betsey Stevenson, a respected academic economist. "Seventy-seven cents captures the annual earnings of full-time, full-year women divided by the earnings of full-time, full-year men," she said when pressed by questions from the White House press corps. "If I said 77 cents was equal pay for equal work, then I completely misspoke."

It's actually been illegal to pay women less than men for the same work since Congress passed a law to that effect in 1963 -- 53 years ago. Any employer who does so is inviting a lawsuit, which most small businesses can't afford, and courting a negative reputation, which any large business abhors.

Clinton's policies will be based on the notion that " patriarchally erected barriers" prevent women from earning more. Since this is not the case, her policies will be erected on false ideas and thus will be likely to fail. Barone writes:

Hillary Clinton's solutions for equalizing pay -- "flexible scheduling, paid family leave and earned sick days" -- tend to encourage women to take time off from work, which in turn tends toward lower lifetime earnings. That's certainly been the effect in Scandinavia, where such policies have been carried farthest. The effect, Swedish scholar Nima Sanandaji writes, is that "many women work, but seldom in the private sector and seldom enough hours to reach the top."

The fact is that the barriers Clinton thinks are holding women back mostly came down years ago. Her continuing battle against 1950s norms may inspire women of a certain age. But it doesn't ring true for millennial women, who have been voting overwhelmingly against her in Democratic primaries. Misleading statistics, it turns out, don't make good politics.

Women of a certain age--ouch, Mr. Barone!

Still, this goes a long way towards explaining why younger women haven't rallied to Mrs. Clinton's banner in quite the way she expected.

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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