Wednesday, 16 December 2015

How Women's Lib Made Us More Unequal....Well, In One Way

The Women's Equality Party is a party whose main agenda is to use women's lib to reduce inequality and make women a more prominent force in society. Women make up just over 50% of the UK population, and we can all be glad that they have been liberated from so many of the impediments that used to hinder them.

But being the sort of seat of the pants reality gambler that I am, I can actually conceive of why, in at least one area of consideration, women's lib would actually have the knock on effect of increasing inequality. Not that that's any reason to dislike it, of course - there are all sorts of things that increase inequality that we ought to, and do, like.

What women's lib probably has produced, albeit indirectly, is an increase in household income inequality, by which I mean inequality between sets of households. The logic is fairly straightforward. Women now work in the job market a lot more than they used to, and like men they tend to (but not in all cases) have a job roughly commensurate with their education. Given this fact, which means they are going to mix more with people in their academic group, and the fact that assortative mating is very prominent in selective choosing, you are going to find like-minded people will tend to marry each other, which means high end earners will marry other high end earners, and the same with middle and low ends.  

This means that household incomes will be increasingly unequal. Two shelf stackers and two lawyers are more likely to marry each other rather that two shelf stackers married to two lawyers. Obviously there are plenty of exceptions, but generally what I've said is true. But what it also means is that household rises in income inequality are not only not much of a problem at all - they are, in fact, very directly linked to the things we rightly celebrate, like the liberation of women.