Last week we observed Equal Pay Day, a “holiday” created to dramatize the wage gap between what men and women earn.
Yet the real wage gap becomes much smaller when we factor in the choices that women make (college majors, fields of employment, hours worked, etc.). And there is another big difference in the jobs that men and women take that is often overlooked: men generally work in more dangerous jobs. More men die on the job.
Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute has looked at the relative number of fatalities on the job and proposes “Equal Fatality Day.” Men die so much more frequently than women in workplace accidents that the Equal Fatality Day would next fall in 2030. Perry explains:
Last December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released final data on workplace fatalities in 2017, and a new “Equal Occupational Fatality Day” can now be calculated. As in previous years, the graphic above shows the significant gender disparity in workplace fatalities in 2017: 4,761 men died on the job (92.5% of the total) compared to only 386 women (7.5% of the total). The “gender occupational fatality gap” in 2017 was again considerable — more than 12 men died on the job for every woman who died while working.
Based on the BLS data for 2017 for workplace fatalities by gender (and assuming those figures will be approximately the same in 2018), the next “Equal Occupational Fatality Day” will occur more than 11 years from now – on May 3, 2030. That date symbolizes how far into the future women will be able to continue working before they experience the same loss of life that men experienced in 2018 from work-related deaths. Because women tend to work in safer occupations than men on average, they have the advantage of being able to work for more than years longer than men before they experience the same number of male occupational fatalities in a single year.
Commenting on the Perry study, the editors of the Wall Street Journal note:
This increased risk no doubt shows up in men’s paychecks. Not all dangerous occupations, obviously, will get you rich. Logging workers average $42,340 a year. Still, that’s more than preschool and kindergarten teachers ($40,070), who are 98% female.
The broader point is that humanity is complicated. Millions of men and women make their own choices about which careers, jobs and family structures will work best for them. Who but a committed social engineer could demand that their median pay precisely match?