Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA)
Thanks for sending me the blast e-mail in which you assert that the gender pay gap is both real and large enough to justify remedial government action.
You’re a member of a political community that prides itself on its self-proclaimed commitment to science and to dispassionate, rational thought. So what gives with your e-mail? A reality-based person such as yourself surely knows that the alleged gender pay gap largely disappears when account is taken of economically relevant factors such as differences in men’s and women’s work experience, job choices, and number of hours worked annually. That is, the problem that you boast that you’ll work to solve is mythical.
What’s worse, whatever government actions you have in mind when you boast that you’ll “seek solutions” would backfire. For example, mandating equal pay for equal work – or creating further causes of action for women workers to sue employers for alleged gender bias in pay – will raise firms’ costs of employing women. Firms will respond in part by employing fewer women and also by finding legal ways of paying women less than women would be paid in the absence of your “solutions.” Your intervention into the labor market, therefore, would be the very device that turns the now-mythical gender pay gap into the very real gap that your intervention is ostensibly meant to eliminate!
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030