Equal Pay Day celebrates a tiresome myth that just won’t die

Equal Pay Day falls on April 10 this year, and supposedly represents how far into 2018 women must continue working to earn what their male counterparts earned last year. The National Center for Pay Equity promotes Equal Pay Day annually to bring attention to the so-called “gender pay gap,” which claims that women receive 20% lower pay on average for doing the same work as men. But the 20% gender wage gap is actually a tiresome statistical myth that persists in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The reality is that men and women make very different career and work choices, and frequently play very different family roles, especially for families with children. While gender discrimination undoubtedly occurs, it is individuals’ choice – not discrimination – which accounts for the vast majority of gender differences in earnings.

Labor economists have conducted numerous studies over many decades to explain differences in earnings among all types of workers. Economists believe that two main factors influence the earnings received by a given worker.

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