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Scientists say gender wage gap causes female depression–what if it’s the other way around?

January 11, 2016

My latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

Columbia U. campus: home of Ivy League “science”

Everybody knows that women are twice as likely to develop depression as men. But it takes a bunch of Ivy League scientists to come up with the zaniest explanation ever for the disparity: the “gender wage gap.” You see, if a female knows that she’s making less money than the males in her office, she sinks into a tailspin of depression and also anxiety.

Hey, Ivy League scientists, what if it’s the other way around? What if the actual reason she’s paid less is that her depression prevents her from doing her job as :ell as the men?

You see, there’s this logical fallacy of mistaking correlation for causation. Look up the two words in the dictionary.

But what’s a little logical fallacy if you’re a bigshot at Columbia University? Here’s the report in the Washington Post:

“The study, published in this month’s volume of the journal Social Science & Research, found that when a woman’s income was lower than a male counterpart’s, her odds of reporting anxiety disorder were more than four times higher than his. But if she made the same or more, her odds of suffering from it were much lower.

“A similar pattern held true with depression. A woman who was paid less than her male counterpart had 2.4 times higher odds of depression; when her income was equal to or more than a male peer’s, her odds of reporting multiple symptoms of depression were no different than his. Jonathan Platt, one of the authors of the paper and a doctoral student in epidemiology at Columbia, said in an interview that while his findings were in line with what they predicted, ‘I was surprised to see such clear differences. It was good to see the results, but also dismaying, of course, for what they represent.’

“Platt and his co-authors examined data on more than 22,000 working adults, putting them into matched pairs of men and women who were comparable in age and educational background, as well as who worked in similar industries, for similar types of employers and at similar occupation levels. While such matched pairs aren’t perfect — the counterparts didn’t necessarily do the exact same job or work in the same organization — they were a proxy that helped control for other possible explanations for the pay differences.”

Similar industries, for similar types of employers and at similar occupation levels? Uh, in other words, we aren’t even talking about women working for the same company that employed their supposedly better-paid male counterparts. How then were they expected to know that the men were earning more than they were, and thus to experience one of those anxiety fits? Isn’t that something the scientists should have tried to “control for”?

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen
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