|The Census Bureau released new data Tuesday on the pay gap between men and women, showing a statistically insignificant increase. But the news is better than it might seem.|
A closer look at the numbers reveals the good news: Within nearly every age group, the pay gap is shrinking even more than the census data shows, said Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University economist and one of the leading scholars on the pay gap.
The census data is a broad generalization — it reports the median earnings of people 15 and older working full-time and year-round ($50,033 for men and $39,157 for women). The reason for the discrepancy is that the baby boomers skew the results — because there are so many of them, because the pay gap tends to widen as women age and because they were the first generation in which women began to approach men in educational and career achievements.
So while the gap looks as if it has remained more or less stable for several years, she said, it has actually been declining. “It adds up — a cent here, a cent there,” Ms. Goldin said.
Still, the gap remains wide, and after it shrank rapidly from the mid-1970s until the early 1990s, its reduction has slowed significantly. So what has worked to shrink the gap as...