Mark Perry makes a great point. One of the reasons why men make more money than women is that they’re more likely to be paid to risk their lives. Obviously, if we fairly close the pay gap, these two bars will look alike:
Perry adds, in part:
Economics tells us that total worker compensation takes the form of both monetary and non-monetary factors. The less favorable the non-monetary factors of a job are (e.g., physically demanding labor in relatively dangerous work conditions), the more monetary compensation is required to offset those undesirable job characteristics. Because male workers are disproportionately exposed to dangerous work conditions, the wages in many male-dominated professions reflect a wage premium to compensate for the higher occupational risk, and this is one reason for a gender wage gap.
This has nothing to do with discrimination, but can be explained by gender differences in workplace risk tolerance. On average, men are more willing than women to accept higher compensation for a higher risk of work-related death or injury.
Update: From a reader who thinks he’s a lot more clever than he is:
You have brilliantly answered a question no one is asking. Now how about answering one that matters: why do women still get paid less for doing the same job as men?
This is hardly an unexplored or mysterious question. Here’s a nice, non-rightwing place to start if you sincerely have no clue what the answers to that question might be.
Update II: If the WSJ piece doesn’t do it for you, a reader sends me this St. Louis Fed article from 2001. Obviously not up to date, but covers the bases well.