International Statistics

Hat-tip to Vanessa: the latest report on global gender inequality is out, providing statistics from international surveys about gender gaps in wages, political representation, education, health, and employment. Vanessa emphasized that the US only ranked 22nd; in fact, I’m fairly certain it should rank lower, because the report says it ranks third in closing the income gap, behind Moldova and Tanzania, even though in reality Sweden does better.

A good rule of thumb is that if an international study conflicts with an intranational one, then the intranational one is better. There are exceptions, for example if the country that takes the survey fudges data, but usually it holds. So when the US Census Bureau says the USA has a full-time wage gap of 23% and Statistics Sweden says Sweden has a full-time wage gap of 15%, they’re almost certainly right.

An international study usually doesn’t have high enough a sample size to compete with a national one. For a good comparison, let’s talk about national/local instead of international/national. The USA’s National Crime Victimization Survey has a sample size of 150,000. It’s hard to improve on it if you want to, say, find out about national rates of assault. But if you wanted to find the rates of assault in New York, you’d have to do so based on only 4,800 people, of whom 4 or 5 will have been victims of assault with injury. The standard error for that would be so huge the study would be meaningless. If, however, your study were limited to just New York, you’d probably have enough funds to have a larger sample size, say 50,000, which would give you ample data.

The US Census Bureau’s determination of wage gaps in the US is to my knowledge not based on a sample. The official Swedish figures cite a standard error figure of less than 1% of each gender’s income. Somehow, the global study says the occupation-controlled gap in Sweden is 29%, even though occupation controlling always decreases the gap. Color me unimpressed.

9 Responses to International Statistics

  1. We’re #22! Take that, Zimbabwe!

  2. Alon Levy says:

    You’re really not. The countries close to the top are differentiated based purely on political representation and economic equality statistics. Political representation, where the US blows, is an easy thing to check and tabulate an international comparison about. Economic equality, where the US shines, is based on statistics that at first glance seem false. In other words, the US is doing worse than Vanessa thinks.

  3. I don’t see why income data should be based on a sample at all. Just use tax data.

  4. Alon Levy says:

    That works only for households. When the tax system treats married couples as a single income-earner, or doesn’t distinguish full-time year-round workers from other workers, it’s impossible to use tax data. That’s why inequality statistics tend to be so much easier to get than gender gap statistics – for inequality, you just take the Gini of all households, possibly with scaling for the number of people in the household.

  5. When the tax system treats married couples as a single income-earner

    That’s your problem right there. Seriously, the reason we’re approaching equality is that we got rid of the joint taxing (back in the seventies, I think; I read a book about it a while ago).

  6. Alon Levy says:

    I take it Sweden doesn’t have a problem with people staying in dysfunctional relationships because of tax and minimum income benefits (a couple on $30,000 a year have a higher quality of life than a single person on $15,000)…

  7. Hujo says:

    Waaaa I dont have a math education

    Alon i am aware you are aware the librals in canada are fighting to refund SOW, They are saying its needed as women earn 71 cents on the dollar to men they are basing this on……..

    the publication…

    “New Federal Policies affecting Women’s Equality: Reality Check”

    Link number one under “what’s new.”…..

    • At every level of education, women in
    Canada earn less on average than men.
    For example, in 2003, women who are
    high school graduates earned 71.0 % of
    what male high school graduates earned
    for full-time, full-year work. Women with
    post-secondary degrees earned 68.9% of
    what their male counterparts did for fulltime,
    full-year work.1 Postsecondary
    education does nothing at all to narrow
    the wage gap between women and men.

    1 Statistics Canada, Women in Canada: A genderbased
    statistical report. 5th ed. (Ottawa: Minister of
    Industry, 2006) p. 153.”

    Click to access 0010589-503-XIE.pdf

    So this 71 cents to the dollar is proven by the stats on page 153?? Which are….

    Membership in employer-sponsored pension plans, 1980 to 20021

    Contributors to Registered Retirement Savings Plans, 1982 to 2002

    Wha? I am no math whiz but are they basing the figures on those employers that happen to offer a pension plan and those people that happen to take out an rrsp?

    If so, how is this any reliable cross section, it doesn’t make sense, did I screw up somewhere? How doeas this prove women of all education earn less than men working the same hours as men in the same positions, and how does it prove its the result of discriminating males???

    It’s not just for me it is a hot issue up here and you have the potetial to prove to me and canada women DO earn less and ARE discriminated against.

    Are these stats concrete or manipulated??

    Doesnt this complaetly ignore the posibilty of life choices or the fact that with a highschool diploma boys go into trades girls go into service industry by choice?

  8. Hujo says:


    It’s page 155 table 6.10 and 6.11

    Click to access 0010589-503-XIE.pdf

    So yes, does this not completely ignore overtime worked? Choice of job after graduation? Does it ignore courses taken after graduation?

    It is info derived from this….

    I guess I have more homework if you’re interested I would love an “in the know” opinion.

    One simple question in your opinion do any of these stats suggest discrimination? If so how is this more evident than choice of job?

  9. Hujo says:

    My conclusion is, when feminists say women get paid 71 cents to the dollar that does not mean men and women in the same positions, but rather working men and women in society as a whole, their is absolutely no concrete evidence to support that the distribution of wealth in society between the genders is caused by discrimination, their is far more evidence to suggest that there is lack of interest in certain fields like trades being the major one here, if women feel they will be discriminated against it can be easily argued those feelings are the result of feminism’s victimology instead of a system they have not experienced.

    Doesn’t the feminist opinion on distribution of wealth demonize men and suggest they are inherently sexist with no evidence whatsoever?

    Remember unlike men and women the wage gap between the rich and the poor is widening, equal rights and opportunity does not equal instant equal success.

    Well, I still feel feminists have no business being funded by tax dollars.

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