Examining the pay gap

Published 10:19 pm Monday, June 4, 2018

By Joe Bass

People group together in societies to create wealth for their benefit. There are different types of societies. In the United States, our type of society has created more wealth than any other nation. But we strive to do better.

A common characteristic of rich societies involves more equal development of productive intellect among large percentages of the people. A common characteristic of poor societies involves male domination and keeping females powerless and uneducated. These societies are poor because they only support intellectual development of half their population — the males. Societies that create the greatest wealth provide more equal intellectual development of males and females.


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Although Americans have established a society that has created more wealth than any other nation in world history, we can still do better. Today, our greatest challenge involves the development of black Americans so that they can create as much wealth as white Americans.

The usual reason given for the income gap between black and white Americans involves claims that blacks are discriminated against. But do claims of discrimination reflect a reality?

A study highlighted in the May 2018 “Kappan” magazine indicates that claims of discrimination avoid the fact that income gaps are based on cultural factors rather than race.

The study by the Equality of Opportunity Project at Brown University tracked the degree by which income gaps persists across generations between black and white Americans. Comparisons of 20 million parents and their children show that black Americans are not experiencing equal upward mobility across generations as whites and are more likely to experience downward mobility.

If the researchers had stopped their study at this point, it would be possible to claim that discrimination is the problem. But they took one additional step and revealed a very different reality. They divided their data not only between blacks and whites but also by gender.

By restructuring the same data, the researchers discovered that the upward mobility of black females is almost exactly the same as white females. The same cannot be said, however, for black males.

Based on this data, it is impossible to claim discrimination against blacks is the problem. If discrimination against blacks were the problem, black females and males would be equally discriminated against, and their numbers would be the same.

But that is not the case. Why then is black male achievement so much lower than white males’ when black female achievement equals white female achievement? Cultural factors rather than racial factors have to be involved.

What are the negative cultural factors associated with the lack of growth and development among black males? We need to explore these issues so that black males’ achievements will be equal to white and black females.

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at ABetterSociety1@aol.com.