Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I'm pretty sure this isn't legal

This story out of Baker, Oregon says several restaurants are dropping prices for women, because females make less than males in the workplace.

Of course this is a big PR stunt, on the heels of the annual release of the pay equity report that is always put out by the American Association of University Women, which is a feminist advocacy group.

But can a business discriminate in pricing based on gender? I don't think so. There are certain bases upon which price discrimination is allowed - age, for one. But I am guessing (I don't have the time to investigate - any lawyer know the answer?) that gender is not one of the allowed attributes for legal price discrimination.

That said, the canard that women make less than men make for the same job is so bogus that I can't believe people still buy it. The AAUW study said that women make 77% of what men make, but when they adjust for things such as hours worked, different career choices, sick days, etc, that the "residual" pay differential is 12%. Other studies that looked at the same thing showed a much smaller differential - 3% or so.

It is absolutely true that on a raw average, women make less than men. There are legitimate reasons for this. Men, because they don't generally plan on leaving the workforce during child bearing years, tend to more often choose careers that require upfront investment in their own human capital, which results in high income. That type of investment yields far less return if the person leaves the workplace for 5-10 years, as is the norm for women.

There are lots of other reasons for the pay differential, also mostly associated with the fact (which feminists, to their everlasting ire, have never successfully changed) that women are the ones who bear children.

The pay studies try to estimate the precise effect of all the different reasons for why women make less than men, and whatever differential remains unexplained is attributed to discrimination. This residual varies study to study, but is actually quite small.

That is why the AAUW doesn't say "Women make 12% less than men." That isn't as dramatic. They always trumpet the raw average, which, by the way, is up from 59% in 1962.

Sorry, ladies, you are not a victim here.


Anonymous said...

I'll take a shot at the legal issue...Men are not a protected class in any descrimination laws that I know of so it would seem to be legal at this point.

Besides.....are any of us really so old and grumpy that we would not allow the corner pub the right to run a ladies night special???

Anonymous said...

The funniest thing about this is that the original AP story described the group as the "American Association of American Women." One of the Portland TV news programs picked this up as well.

In response to this idea, I'm not going to patronize any of the restaurants that take part for a month.

Anonymous said...

They say it is a matter of fairness. What's next? You take your paycheck stub to the restaraunt to establish your annual salary so that under earners are charged less than over earners? Sounds like something out of a Vonnegut novel.

Dave Lister

Don Smith said...

...to each according to his needs...