Next Equal Occupational Fatality Day in 2022
Today (April 12, 2011) is Equal Pay Day. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity:
"This date symbolizes how far into 2011 women must work to earn what men earned in 2010. Because women earn less, on average, than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay. Equal Pay Day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages."
MP: Last year, around the time of "Equal Pay Day," I created "Equal Occupational Fatality Day" to bring public awareness to the huge gender gap that exists in occupational deaths in the United States. The next "Equal Occupational Fatality Day" will occur on Thursday August 15, 2022. This date symbolizes how far into the future women are expected to work to experience the same loss of life from work-related deaths that men experienced in just the single year 2009 (4,021 deaths for men compared to only 319 for women), according to the most recent data available from the BLS (see chart above). Because women work in much safer occupations and work environments than men, they must work decades longer than men to experience the same number of occupational fatalities.
A disproportionate number of men work in higher-risk occupations that are typically compensated with higher pay like coal mining (almost 100% male), fire fighters (96.4% male), police officers (87% male), correctional officers (74% male), farming, fishing and forestry (76.5% male) and construction (95.4% male), BLS data here. A disproportionate number of women work in lower-risk, more comfortable and safer industries, often with lower pay to compensate for the more worker-friendly, indoor, comfortable, air-conditioned office environments, like Office and Administrative Support Occupations (79% female), Education, Training and Library Occupations (73.8%), and Healthcare (74.3%). These differences in work environments could likely reflect differences in "revealed preference" by gender - men prefer higher-paid, higher risk occupations, and women prefer lower-paid, lower risk occupations, in general and on average. It might not have anything to do with discrimination, and everything to do with differences in risk tolerances and risk-reward preferences.
To achieve perfect gender pay equity, there will have to be an increase in the number of women in higher-paying, but higher-risk occupations like fire-fighting and coal mining. That outcome will certainly reduce the gender pay gap, but it will come at a huge cost: sentencing thousands of women per year to certain fatal occupational deaths. Would closing the pay gap, if it also means closing the gender occupational death gap and exposing thousands of women to work-related deaths each year, really be worth it?