What is going on at the Guardian?
Guest Blogger // 17 June 2009
Orlanda Ward does not think much of Tim Worstall’s musings on how there is “no gender pay gap”
Now I understand that these are testing times, and papers are doing all they can to increase traffic and therefore advertising revenues on their sites, but it’s starting to get ridiculous.
“There is no gender pay gap in the UK, there is only a mothers’ pay gap,” he bellows.
Worstall’s basic argument is that women are not paid less because they are women, but because they have kids, and that’s ok because actually they are compensated in the form of child benefit and family tax credits. So that’s all fine then. Problem solved.
What’s even more alarming is that despite providing a link to the Home Office figures which clearly contradict his every word, he receives rapturous applause on the comments thread.
So I just thought I’d take a deep breath and calmly deploy a little logic to highlight a few of the gaping holes in Tim’s argument.
1. I hate to state the obvious, but Tim actually admits that there is a gender pay gap. He actually admits the existence of the thing which he flatly denies the existence of. It’s not a great start really.
2. Even if we give him the benefit of the doubt, and imagine it were the case that the gender pay gap was limited to mothers, this still includes the vast majority of women. Then given that it doesn’t apply to fathers, i.e. the vast majority of men, it doesn’t seem entirely beyond the realms of reasonable thought to conceive of this in terms of gender.
3. Tim’s rough figures on the costs of children are comically under-estimated at £2,500 p/a. I’d be highly surprised if that stretched to the annual sum spent on school fees spent by many in his social circle, (let alone the nanny).
4. He seems to have rather misunderstood the purpose of child benefit if he believes it is to compensate the mother for lost earnings due to childrearing. That’s why it’s called child benefit Tim, not mothers’ benefit.
5. Even if it was to compensate the mother, it doesn’t meet his pathetically low estimate for loss of earnings, let alone a more realistic figure. It’s £20 per week for the first child, and £13.20 for each child after that. Despite being a fellow at the Adam Smith institute, basic arithmetic just doesn’t seem to be Tim’s thing.
6. Working families tax credits are neither for the purpose of compensating parents, nor sufficient to cover loss of earnings due to childrearing. Perhaps Tim would like to wade through the gory details here.
While I could go on, I’ll stop there before things get out of hand.
If you’d like more of Tim’s wisdom on the gender pay-gap, check out one of his lovely blog posts here.