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July 6 2018

Does the New Uber Study Show a Gender Wage Gap?

by Nicole Russell

Has a new study finally proven the gender wage gap actually does exist? CNN Money thinks so. This article, boasting the headline, “Even in a gig economy, women earn less than men,” discussed a new Stanford University and University of Chicago study released last week. The economists used data from over one million Uber drivers and uncovered a seven percent hourly earnings gap between men and women. Does even Uber favor men over women in the seemingly endless battle over the “gender wage gap”?

A closer look at the paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that a wage gap exists at Uber not because of some kind of sexism inherent within the company, but because of the innate differences between men and women. The abstract of the study states, “We completely explain this gap and show that it can be entirely attributed to three factors: experience on the platform (learning-by-doing), preferences over where to work (driven largely by where drivers live and, to a lesser extent, safety), and preferences for driving speed.”

To translate economist-talk to real-life talk this means: Men earn more driving for Uber than women do because they 1) spend more time chauffeuring people around than women do, 2) they drive in places that are more populated and even riskier and 3) they are able to drive more passengers around than women are because they drive faster than women do. The authors of the study observed, “Overall, our results suggest that on-the-job learning may contribute to the gender earnings gap more broadly in the economy than previously thought.” No kidding!

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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