Much has been reported about the gender pay gap, with women earning around 79 cents for every dollar that men earn. A study conducted last year, however, suggests this gap has as much to do with marital status as gender. Dr. Guillaume Vandenbroucke of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reports that single men and women earn very similar wages and that married women—many of whom presumably have children and may leave the workforce for several years to raise them—earn about the same as single women and men.
According to the study, the real disparity arises with married men, who earn much higher wages than single men and women. A married man in his mid-40s, for instance, earns around $85,000 annually compared to all others in the same age group, who earn around $50,000. The study does not imply that a man’s marital status creates this gap; rather, it suggests that men who earn higher wages may be more likely to marry.
“The gender wage gap remains a complicated topic,” Dr. Vandenbroucke writes. “But progress may come from asking different questions: not just why women earn less than men (although not compared with single men), but also why married men earn so much more than everyone else.” Check out the report at research.stlouisfed.org/publications. iBi