Economics and equality have had a long history of association, but in the modern day with the growth of newly nurtured equality parameters such as feminism at its peak, the relation between economics and equality has lately become a debatable issue. One of the most influential, attention requiring topics in this area is, Equal pay for equal work.
Addressing this problem on a global level, many economists, experts, social workers have been putting up their thoughts regarding the topic, one of them being the ever-so-famous American economist Milton Friedman. Friedman was known to be quite blunt in putting forward his opinions regarding economic issues which often paved way for him to end up in controversies, but on analyzing his statements today, one can easily find a lot of substance in them.
Let’s try to understand this equal pay for equal work thing, first of all.
In its easiest form, equal pay for equal work is a phrase which was coined back during the Industrial Revolution, which means that every person in an economy regardless of his/her caste, sex, creed, etc. gets the same wage or salary for the same work. In simple words, person A shouldn’t be paid more than person B for the same work. This concept basically stresses upon the fact of equality promotion, paying least attention to the economic factors and consequences it brings along.
The Video hosts the famous economist Milton Friedman and his opinion on equal pay for equal work.
Milton Friedman’s statements on this issue helped many to get a useful insight into the actual situation if equal pay for equal work laws were to be implemented in the world economy. According to him, equal pay for equal work laws in their very meaning seem to be anti-feminist. He felt that if a person A is being offered a higher wage for a job then the only weapon left for person B would be offering to work for less, or otherwise he/she will have to do away with the job.
Digging deeper into history, one gets to know that a great lot of people were able to make better for them under the unequal pay for equal work system. They were able to hone their skills, increase their productivity, make more income and then after some years, were able to come under the category of better-offs.
Professor Friedman even pointed out that if in some sector of the industry, males are preferred more than females for a particular job, and then by enactment of these laws the government will snatch away the only weapon they have – offering to work for less. Nonetheless, if the female population feels that a particular employer is being sexist towards females and is more inclined towards employing males, then they should rather be happy that the employer has to pay a higher cost for his act of prejudice. In simple words, if women competing for a job are actually as competent as their male counterparts and are even offering to work for less but still the sexist employer employs a male, then he is paying a cost for his discrimination.
But all these statements put forward by Milton Friedman didn’t come without a rebuttal. Feminists say that these laws aren’t anti-feminist at all, as pointed out by Friedman because they feel that just the employer decides whether which one is better at a job – male or female and the only way an employee can counter that is through laws. Moreover, they feel that bringing in the laws cannot harm women at all as tells us the example of the American Equal Pay Act of 1963. Since then, the number of working female population has gone up along with their collective earnings among others.
Some people even feel that while addressing the cost that a sexist employer bears for discriminating against women, the cost that a woman has to bear for offering to work for less is often ignored which further implies that the employer is prejudiced and discriminating but is still being rewarded for it.
So as we read through the above, we can come to a conclusion that everyone has their own point of view which happens to be way too different than the others. Also, we must understand that we are the ones who can only share our viewpoints regarding the same because decisions like law-making, etc. are to be taken care of by the government.
Personally, I feel that Milton Friedman’s statements have a lot more substance than the rebuttals but this doesn’t mean that I deny the fact that in the long-run, the rebuttals may prove out to be helpful seeing today’s female working conditions. I’ve now understood why this is a never-ending debatable issue but I’ve also understood that economics and equality are not kind of made for each other in all cases. There has to be a few cases where economics and equality do not go hand in hand, one of them being the aforementioned.