Thursday, September 10, 2009

Male-Female Occupational Death Gap Is 13 to 1

According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, "The ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly earnings for full-time workers was 79.9 in 2008, the third consecutive decline since the historical high of 81.0 in 2005."

Rep. Carol Maloney (D-NY) wrote earlier this year in an article titled "Still Not Equal" that:

In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, the daunting and complicated task of distributing victim compensation began to take shape. The compensation plan, as it was originally proposed, was based on outdated government formulas which assumed that women victims would have worked for less of their lives than their male counterparts. In effect, the proposed system of compensation was providing less for the families of women victims simply because they were the families of women victims.

It was a sobering reminder of how institutionalized gender discrimination can be. This isn't from a history book - it is not an example of how difficult it was for women of our grandmothers' generation. This is an example of how women as young as our daughters, in this decade, are still facing the same obstacles we vowed to eradicate. I am proud to have successfully fought for equal compensation after September 11th, but know that there are many battles yet to be won.

Male-female wage differentials are frequently explained by women's group as the direct consequence of "instititutionalized gender discrimination," as Rep. Maloney claims. One other explanation for wage differentials could also be that men tend to work in higher-risk, less safe occupations, with a greater chance of injury or death (e.g. coal mining), at a higher rate than women, and are therefore compensated with higher wages for the greater exposure to risk (e.g. a window washer hanging off the top of the Sears tower washing windows outside 1,000 feet from the ground will make more than a window washer working inside the building.)

The chart above provides evidence that men suffered from fatal occupational injuries (4,703) at a much higher rate than women (368), by a factor of almost 13 to 1 (BLS data here) in 2008. For certain types of occupational deaths like "Contact with objects and equipment," the male-female gender death gap is even greater (41 to 1), and for "Fires and explosions" the gap is 24 to 1.

Occupational deaths are probably concentrated in male-dominated industries like construction (90% male) and manufacturing (70% male), and are probably almost non-existent in female-dominated professions like education and health care (75% female) and government (57% female). Notice also in the chart below that the male-dominated industries have suffered from much higher unemployment rates (19.2% for construction and 12.6% for manufacturing, in May) compared to significantly below-average jobless rates for female-dominated industries (4.9% for education and health services and 3.1% for government).

Men are also currently facing the greatest male-female jobless rate gap on record of 2.7% as I reported here, with the male unemployment rate reaching 10.9% in August compared to the female rate of 8.2%.

Bottom Line: Closing the gender pay gap might also result in closing the gender occupational death gap (exposing more women to job-related death and injury), and closing the gender jobless rate gap (women would be less insulated from job losses during recessions). TNSTAAFL.


At 9/10/2009 2:19 PM, Blogger Milton Recht said...

The weekly earnings numbers do not include the value of employer paid benefits, such as health insurance, paid sick days, vacation, etc.

When one looks at a segment of employment where benefits are homogeneous, such as government workers, the wage difference, when adjusted for experience, etc., disappears.

There is anecdotal evidence that women choose jobs with higher benefits and men choose jobs with higher weekly pay. When the two are adjusted for the value of the difference in benefits, there is no wage discrepancy for comparable jobs.

Hopefully, the jobs with the higher fatal occupation injuries and with the greatest income variability pay more when adjusted for the value of benefits. If not, then there may actually be discrimination against men and not women when men take on higher risk jobs without extra pay.

At 9/10/2009 3:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is interesting that the education gap often refered to on this blog plays into this. The jobs that require less education seem to be those that have more risk and vice versa. However as more automation comes online the safety gap decreases. Witness the automated pipe handling system on newer oil rigs where all pipe handling is done by computer and run with a joy stick. No more working directly with 500 pound tongs or up on top of a derrick.

At 9/10/2009 3:45 PM, Anonymous Junkyard_hawg1985 said...


The some of the most dangerous occupations (w/death rate)are logging (89.1), commercial fishing, hunting and trapping (82.2), aircraft pilots and flight engineers (70.6), Strctural iron and steel workers (47.8), Farmers and Ranchers (36), and roofers (33.4). Manufacturing is relatively safe with a fatality rate of 2.4. The dangerous jobs are dominated by men.

At 9/10/2009 5:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NOte that one of the dangerous occupations airline pilot is becoming more female with time, as is truck driving, since both occupations don't really depend on strength. In the case of pilots the decline of the military as a source has hastened the trend. As to farmers I suspect its about equal as most farms are really run by both spouses, but I agree the really dangerous occupations are male dominated. Note however that new machinery in logging where a machine cuts and de-limbs the tree should improve safety, more will follow as the cost per life increases, and then machines can take the dangerous roles.


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