Friday, July 2, 2010

The Count

31... the gap in percentage points between male and female hourly wages in Latin America. That's right, the region has made great progress in addressing gender disparities but income gaps nevertheless remain quite large.

For the full scoop head on over to Eclac, where you'll find a new report out this week on regional progress towards achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As usual, this publication is a wonk's statistical wet dream and contains far more fascinating information than could ever be adequately covered here. So go check it out, here.

But what's there to learn about gender equality in the region from the report's myriad of tables and graphs?

Insight number one is that gender disparities don't seem to be driven by educational differences. In most countries of the region men and women exhibit very similar levels of enrollment in both primary and secondary schooling (but not so similar when it comes to tertiary schooling).

Insight number two is that in most countries women have begun to diversify away from purely agricultural employment. In this area, both Venezuela and Colombia stand out for making the most progress.

Insight number three: wage equality has steadily improved since 1990 but the gap with respect to men still remains large. However, as can be seen below, the gap is significantly smaller for salaried employees.

[Average hourly and salaried income of women, compared to men, urban areas (in percentages)]
The blue line shows women's average hourly income in relation men, the purple line shows average salaries in relation to men and the black line, 100 percent, represents men's wages. The first thing to notice is the big improvement since 1990. However, as can be seen from the dotted trend line to the right of 2008, the gap continues to narrow at the current pace it won't completely close even by the year 2015.

Now, an implication of the difference in relative gaps between hourly and salaried employees is that the lower your income, the less equality you should expect vis a vis men. And this takes us to insight number four: Latin America has A LOT of women in politics. No, seriously. It beats every other developing region of the world except for the Caribbean.

[Percentage of members of parliament that are women, 1990, 2005 and 2009]

So the moral of the story is... more equality for women in the heights of power and wealth but significantly less futher down on the socioeconomic stratum.

But hey. Stop reading my ramblings and go enjoy your freakin' weekend.

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