It really is the periods that explain the gender pay gap

This might cause some shouting:

In most Western countries illness-related absenteeism is higher among female workers than among male workers. Using the personnel dataset of a large Italian bank, we show that the probability of an absence due to illness increases for females, relative to males, approximately 28 days after a previous illness. This difference disappears for workers age 45 or older. We interpret this as evidence that the menstrual cycle raises female absenteeism. Absences with a 28-day cycle explain a significant fraction of the male-female absenteeism gap. To investigate the effect of absenteeism on earnings, we use a simple signaling model in which employers cannot directly observe workers\’ productivity, and therefore use observable characteristics – including absenteeism – to set wages. Since men are absent from work because of health and shirking reasons, while women face an additional exogenous source of health shocks due to menstruation, the signal extraction based on absenteeism is more informative about shirking for males than for females. Consistent with the predictions of the model, we find that the relationship between earnings and absenteeism is more negative for males than for females. Furthermore, this difference declines with seniority, as employers learn more about their workers\’ true productivity. Finally, we calculate the earnings cost for women associated with menstruation. We find that higher absenteeism induced by the 28-day cycle explains 11.8 percent of the earnings gender differential.

The more people research the gender pay gap the less and less room there is for it to be being caused by taste discrimination. Instead of rational discrimination.

12 thoughts on “It really is the periods that explain the gender pay gap”

  1. Or, more precisely, one statistical model estimated that about one eighth of the earnings gender differential in one Italian bank is correlated to cyclical absences from work among female employees.

  2. I especially like the finding of 11.8 pc. Not 10pc, not 12pc, not even about one-eighth; but 11.8 pc.

    And doesn’t such precision always signal a result to be taken seriously?

  3. With all due respect to the two prior commenters, I’ve noticed anecdotally over many years that the amount of time taken off work for sickness among women far exceeds that among men. and I’ve never found it surprising.

  4. I remember working in an office where the – ahem – more mature women would moan about the young female junior who was off sick once a month; “you’d think she’d never had a period before!” was a typical refrain.

  5. John Fembup: not necessarily. It depends on the underlying data. It may well be that the ramifications of a particular figure are not very sensitive to the figure itself, so that the policy prescriptions arising are the same whether it is 10% or 13%, say, but there’s no intrinsic reason it can’t be stated to a given accuracy and precision if the data from which it is derived support that.

  6. Under cover of darkness I’d ask why half the female population will acknowledge this, and the other half will furiously deny it?

  7. It’s 11.8% of the gender earnings differential, not 11.8 percentage points of salary. So if the ladies get 20% less we still have to explain 88.2% of that 20%.

    For it would indeed be shocking if PMT accounted for 11.8% of less time at work (then reflected in pay) for women.

    BTW, my favourite explanation for it when it actually exists is on average (much) higher risk aversion among females. Just one of many factors, alongside the babbies, subsequent part-timery, nonavailability for the occasionally necessary 80 hour weeks, trailing-spouse syndrome et al, but a big one I think.

  8. @ JamesV
    Generally right but the 11.8% is *not* the total differential due to sickness absence – just the part that the authors ascribe to menstruation. “Absences with a 28-day cycle explain a significant fraction of the male-female absenteeism gap.” Please note the “significant fraction” in that sentence. Presumably more than 11.8% but rather less than 50% (if it over 50% they would have said “a majority”, and I should expect them to say “more than a third if it was .>33.3%).
    So differential absenteeism, in total, possibly accounts for between one-third and one-half of the gender pay.

  9. Pingback: This is a man’s world: a menstrual explanation of the gender pay gap | Left Outside

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