Tuesday 6 October 2015

Wage gaps and part-time work

I had a look at the latest numbers over at The Initiative's blog:
Last week’s New Zealand Income Survey sure led to a lot of headlines. Here are some of them:
One simple change could almost halve measured pay inequality. What is it? Have women replicate men’s split between full-time and part-time work. Ok, maybe that’s not so simple. But while there are 7.05 full time male workers for every part-time male worker, there are 1.96 full time female workers for every part-time female workers. And part-timers always earn less than full-timers. Interestingly enough, part-time female workers earn more than part-time male workers – for the obvious reason given those numbers.
If you re-weighted the pay gap using women’s median earnings for full-time and part-time work, but men’s split between full-time and part-time work, the pay gap would drop from 11.9% to 6.6%. And that’s without controlling for a pile of other important stuff, like time spent outside of the workforce or differences in education background and the like.
How is this different from last year? Last year’s wage gap was 9.8%. In the 2014 NZIS, there were 6.65 full time male workers for every part-timer and 2.02 full-time female workers for every part-timer. So the proportion of male workers in full time positions increased while the proportion of women in full-time positions decreased. The absolute number of part-time male workers dropped; the number of part-time female workers increased.
How big is the effect? It looks like the change in the relative proportions of part time and full time workers accounts for about a fifth of the increase in the wage gap from 2014 to 2015. The rest looks due to a much stronger increase in male full-time earnings than in female full-time earnings – though part-time male earnings have stagnated while part-time female earnings grew.
Meanwhile, the Herald is blaming "bro culture" for that women take longer to pay off student loans than men.
The latest Education Ministry report on the student loan scheme says male students who graduated in 2011 will pay off their loans in an average of 6.7 years, but women will take a further six months.

The gap is far smaller than 2005, before student loans were made interest-free.

In 2005, men would take an average of 14 years and women 28 years to pay off their debts.
Hmm. Any guesses about something that might happen for at least some women in the first 5-10 years after college graduation that would mean an income-contingent loan repayment scheme might take longer for women than for men? Any?

And recall that student loans here don't accrue interest if the debtor stays in New Zealand. If the numbers above are right, then inflation eats far more of female graduates' debt burden than it does for males. Think about it this way. If you owe a big pile of money on which zero interest is accruing, would you prefer to be able to pay it off really quickly or have it deducted from your estate on your deathbed? The longer the term of a zero-interest loan, the better for the borrower!

Update: Brennan McDonald points out that student loan balances are written off when the government sees your death certificate.

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