Women’s Lib Caused Rising Inequality!
YOU may think this is absurd but nevertheless it’s is actually true. From somewhere around a lot to all of rising household inequality has been caused by womens’ lib. Which is, of course, an exciting finding:
The economists test this by comparing the Gini coefficient against their model of what the Gini coefficient would have been if men and women married randomly. In 1960, the actual Gini coefficient in the U.S. was 0.34, almost indistinguishable from the Gini coefficient produced by their random model (0.33). That suggests there was very little assortative mating back then. (Think of all the executives who ended up with their secretaries.)
By 2005, the Gini coefficient was 0.43. That’s a big increase. What’s more, the economists found that “if people matched in 2005 according to the 1960 standardized mating pattern there would be a significant reduction in income inequality; i.e., the Gini drops from 0.43 to 0.35.”
To translate that out of the jargon for you.
Back in the day, before liberation, women tended not to work once they got married. Further, people tended to marry across income lines: no, not across social ones, but across income ones. Think of the old cliche of a boss marrying his secretary.
So, households tended to be made up of one worker and one non worker. That worker might be working class, might be an upper middle class professional, but there was one earner per household.
Nowadays people tend to meet future partners at university or through work. So, unsurprisingly, lawyers tend to marry lawyers, doctors doctors and so on. And this means that up at that top end, in the professional classes, we’ve a lot of households with two professional incomes. And at that bottom end we’ve a lot of households with, if they have two incomes, two low incomes but more often here the wife does stay home with the children.
Clearly, this is going to increase the inequality of household income. And the researchers do say that they can explain all of the rise in US household income inequality just from this one cause.
Who knew that allowing people to marry whoever they wanted to would increase inequality?