Social Issues / Marital Allocation Of Income Earning Responsibility, Job Shifts And Men'S Wages

Marital Allocation Of Income Earning Responsibility, Job Shifts And Men'S Wages

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Autor:  anton  12 March 2011
Tags:  Marital,  Allocation,  Income,  Earning,  Responsibility
Words: 3022   |   Pages: 13
Views: 287

RESEARCH QUESTION: The author is attempting to integrate studies of the marriage effect on men’s wages to the literature on the division of labour within the household. Gorman wants to examine the link between marital status and men’s wages. To focus her argument she makes it clear she will be looking at men’s job shift patterns and how they relate to their earning capacities. The author makes her intent very clear early on in the article so the reader has a clear understanding of what she will be examining. She uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to test her hypotheses that married men pursue job shift patterns that increase their earning potential and steer away from job opportunities that would decrease their wages (Gorman, 1999:110).

PLAN OF ATTACK: The author begins be examining other studies in the field which, for the most part explain the wage differential as a result of the allocation of income earning responsibility in the household (Gorman, 1999:111). She refers to Becker’s work on decision making in the household. He asserts that in all households there is a process by which members are assigned responsibility for income earning and household tasks which include the production of goods and services within the home (Gorman, 1999:110). Gorman contrasts this division of labour to single households where both forms of work must be completed by one individual. In a married household member’s are able to assign time and energy to the forms of work that they are better abled to accomplish (Gorman, 1999:111). Becker asserts that rational couples will assign income earning mostly to the husband because he is able to earn higher wages and household production to the wife, for the same reason (Gorman, 1999:111). At this point in the article the author introduces different perspectives that frame her argument. The rational- choice view which can be seen as similar to Becker’s model asserts that allocation of household tasks relates to the total amount of work that needs to be done within the household (Gorman, 1999:110). In the ideological perspective spouses are assigned different tasks that are based on their beliefs surrounding gender roles (Gorman, 1999:110). The power perspective is heavily reliant upon notions of power and asserts that the spouse with more power in the household dynamic is more likely to assign household tasks (Gorman, 1999:110). After identifying these viewpoints as a background on the subject she re asserts her intent to collect hard evidence of the relation between allocation of income, men’s wages and job shift patterns.

RELEVANCE: The topic of this paper is directly relevant to many sociological issues. The wage differential between men and women is discussed and integrated into the study by relating it to household allocation of income earning. The division of labour within married households versus single households is also examined in relation to the allocation of income earning responsibility. By doing so the author is taking on gender issues, such as the difference in earnings between men and women and how this relates to the division of labour in married households. The study by Gorman incorporates several sociologically important issues surrounding gender and applies them to her research question.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE: In the review of the literature relating to the topic she focuses on three perspectives throughout the paper, which have been outlined earlier. The rational choice perspective, gender ideology perspective and the power perspective are examined in relation to the intent of the study. She extends all three perspectives to suggest that married men set higher earning goals for themselves than single men and subsequently earn more on average than single men (Gorman, 1999: 113). After outlining these perspectives and how they relate to the topic she applies her findings to job shift patterns. She identifies four different kinds of job shift patterns and discusses the implications of each.

In the review of the literature Gorman provides an adequate background of her topic and draws logical and comprehensible conclusions. The author does not identify shortcomings in the literature but rather only asserts what she wishes to investigate further in the article. This may be because the literature does not contain any gaps to fill in but rather provides a stable base on which she is able to extend their arguments and apply them to her specific research question. This may also reflect that she left out background information literature that does not support her hypotheses.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: As discussed above in the literature review the author focuses on three perspectives. The author outlines these theories of marital allocation of household responsibility and highlights the similarities and differences between them. She stresses the finding that all three perspectives agree that men in married households are likely to strive for higher earnings goals than single men (Gorman, 1999:112). She states her hypothesis clearly- proposing that men who are married are more aware than single men of job shifts that may result in increased earnings (Gorman, 1999:114). She also clearly establishes the definition of job shift patterns, of which there are four and the implications of each. She suspects that married men are less likely to quit without another job and also less likely to exhibit risky behaviours that may result in firing (Gorman, 1999: 114). She believes that men will have an advantage over single men in acquiring higher earnings during the process of job shifts (Gorman, 1999:114).

DATA AND METHODS: The data and methods used in this study are appropriate for testing the hypothesis. Although the author does not discuss the methods used in asking these questions, the reader becomes aware that this study may contain ethical implications for the participants. By asking these questions about the allocation of income earning responsibility the participants may question or doubt their method of allocating household income responsibility and therefore indirectly cause harm to the subjects (Babbie and Benaquisto, 2002: 25).

SAMPLE: The author clearly presents the source of the data and sample: the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) conducted annually. The longitudinal survey is of individuals who were 14 to 22 years old in 1979 (Gorman, 1999: 114). The author includes all male participants in the survey for a complete sample size of 6403 men who were surveyed from 1979 through to 1992 (Gorman, 1999: 114). The decision of the author to perform a panel longitudinal study is integral to the studies’ effectiveness. At first the study can be mistaken for a cohort because of the author’s focus on a particular age group but because the study focuses on the same individuals over a period of time it is clear that it is a panel. The author conveniently leaves out a discussion of panel attrition as well as how she came to her sample size of 6403 individuals from a gross national survey. Her sampling method is also not presented. She does not discuss the criteria by which individuals were chose to be a part of the study and therefore leaves the reader in the dark as to whether or not she used probability or non- probability sampling. It would have seemed more reliable if the author explicitly discussed her sampling methods rather than effectively skirting around the issue. Another thing the author fails to address is content validity. In order to be a truly representative sample the author would have to include not only men’s spouses but also women’s responses concerning income, which have been completely omitted in this sample. It seems strange that a discussion of household income earning responsibility only takes into account men. This is problematic for many reasons. The first and most obvious is that it limits the validity of the study drastically be leaving out other members of the household. The second is that these men could be lying. A good control on the experiment would be to compare men’s responses to their spouse’s responses and see whether or not they are consistent. By excluding men’s spouses in the sample the author discredits the validity and reliability of her study.

DATA COLLECTION: The author does not extensively discuss the methods used for collecting the data besides stating that she drew her sample from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The variables included are appropriate for adequately testing the hypothesis but as stated above some categories of the variables are left out, such as women when measuring income.

MEASURES: The key concepts of the hypothesis are measured. She defines categories of job shifts- quitting with a job in hand, quitting without a job in hand, involuntary termination and no shift in employment (Gorman, 1999: 114). She also measures marital status, wages and wage gains. For a control variable she uses the unemployment rate for the corresponding years (Gorman, 1999: 114).

The variable marital status is time varying and has three categories: married, single and divorced (Gorman, 1999: 115). No matter how many times you test for marital status these three categories will always be present and therefore the retest method would prove reliability. In terms of face validity the categories the author provides of marital status are appropriate and do align to our common understandings of marital status. To create a more solid content validity the author might want to create a category for common law households that are grouped into the singles category. In the future it would be appropriate to include homosexual households as well.

For wages the author measures wage as the respondent’s hourly rate of pay in the year when the job spell ended (Gorman, 1999:115). In order to measure wage gains the author compares the difference between the respondent’s hourly wage at the date of the interview in the current year to the hourly wage at the date of the interview in the previous year (Gorman, 1999:115). In the case of wages and wage gains the reliability is hard to judge. If assessed by the test, retest method it would be interesting to examine the results but most likely it would not yield the same results because wages are context specific. The author does not include measures of job experience or performance and therefore there is no real way to assess what affect these factors may have on the data she has collected. The validity for this concept is quite sound. The face validity is there but as discussed above the content validity is sacrificed by leaving out women altogether. An attempt should also be made to control factors that influence an individual’s wages and wage gains.

RESULTS: The author presents the results in four separate tables. The first table presents the means and standard deviations of variables used for analyzing patterns of job shifts of participants (Gorman, 1999:117). The second table presents the means and standard deviations of variables used in the analysis of wages and wage gains. The data collected in job shift patterns is presented in table three and the fourth presents the data resulting from the analysis of wages and wage gains(Gorman, 1999:117).

In table three we see that the results reflect the author’s anticipated connection between marital status and different job shift patterns (Gorman, 1999:117). The findings suggest that married men are more likely to quit a job with a new job in hand than single men and also less likely than single men to quit without a new job in hand (Gorman, 1999:117). She also finds that single men are more likely than married men to experience a firing, consistent with her prediction that married men are less likely to exhibit risky behaviour that may result in involuntary termination. As a control variable the author adds the respondent’s wage before the event of termination in order to heighten the effect of marriage on job termination (Gorman, 1999: 118).

In table four we see that married men’s wages are higher than single men’s wages (Gorman, 1999: 117). They use education, work experience, race, occupation and industry as control variables to ensure accuracy (Gorman, 1999: 118). In column 2 of table four we also see that greater year to year wage gains are experienced by married men than single men and on average married men’s year to year wage gains are $0.28 more than single men’s (Gorman, 1999: 118). When the author introduces other variables mediating job shift processes she finds that job shifts have a relatively small effect on married men’s wage gains (Gorman, 1999: 118). The author makes this section quite confusing and it seems she is trying to conceal the data that does not support her anticipated associations between married men’s wage gains and job shift patterns. It seems from the data that marriage tends to have a higher effect on men’s wages when they stay at the same occupation (Gorman, 1999: 118). This discredits the author’s hypothesis because it seems that job experience and years spent at a job has a larger or equal effect on men’s wages than marriage does. Table four also includes a comparison between married men’s wages and those of single men who experience the same job shift patterns. The author finds that the coefficients are all negative and therefore demonstrates that married men are actually at a disadvantage to single men when experiencing job shifts (Gorman, 1999:118). Although the author predicted that married men would experience higher wage gains in job shifts than single men the data collected does not reflect this.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: As discussed above the results do provide evidence that married men earn more, on average than single men but only when they stay at the same occupation. Her predictions that married men would experience higher earnings than single men when going through job shifts were disproved by the data. The study does add to the existing knowledge of the effect of marriage on men’s wages in two ways: she links her research question to the existing literature on the division of labour within married households (Gorman, 1999:119). The study has also attempted to identify the associations between allocation of income earning responsibility and the difference between married and single men’s wages (Gorman, 1999:119).

The author focuses on the idea that marriage does have a clear effect on married men’s job shift patterns rather than focusing on the effect that these patterns have on married men’s income. Gorman examines the effect that these patterns have on married men’s wages but only briefly because the data reflects that job shifts only have a relatively small effect on married men’s wages and wage gains (Gorman, 1999:120). Married men are likely to earn more than single men but for the most part this only occurs when the individual stays at the same job (Gorman, 1999:120). The association between job shift patterns and greater wage gains was not as strong as the author had anticipated early on. Although the author does include a discussion of findings that are inconsistent with her predictions the analysis is very brief. For example when discussing job shifts rather than explicitly presenting the data that indicates that these shifts have a relatively small effect on men’s wages she frames the discussion in a way that deemphasizes these findings. The conclusions she reaches, in this way are somewhat vague. She does clearly emphasize what her study does accomplish but others may interpret the data differently. Instead of smothering findings that do not fit, they could be openly discussed for their value. Men’s spouses rates of pay could also have been introduced and there could have been a stronger focus on the comparison between the wages of men and the women.

LIMITATIONS: One limitation that the author clearly presents is that her sample is quite young. In 1992 the last year of observations included in the sample the oldest members are only 35 (Gorman, 1999: 120). The author also provides a discussion of how this affects the sample and the implications for the overall study. One limitation that I have mentioned earlier is that the author excludes these men’s spouses from the sample and her analysis altogether.

The author also provides suggestions for further research. She suggests that replicating the study in an older sample of individuals would provide more representative and reliable findings. The author would also like to see a more in depth examination of the process in marital households of assigning income earning responsibility and housework to its members (Gorman, 1999:121). Exploration into the difference in attitudes toward income earning between married and single men would also be interesting (Gorman, 1999:121). The author would also like to see further study on the effect marital status has on wage changes during employment with one employer (Gorman, 1999: 121). The author believes that by examining these aspects further it would lead to more accurate social theory concerning the relation of family and work and could lead to different policy formation than at present (Gorman, 1999:121).

RICH BIT: This article is interesting in the way that it applies the sociological literature on the division of labour within the household to the effect that marriage has on men’s wages (Gorman, 1999:110). There had been little effort to make the connection before this and for this reason the data that was collected is valuable for further exploratory research. The one thing that can be highlighted is the finding that married men, do on average earn more than single men even when occupation, industry, education, race and work experience are controlled (Gorman, 1999:117). It would be interesting to explore the topic in the interest of applied research rather than basic research as the author suggests (Gorman, 1999:121; McIntyre, 2005:117).

FATAL FLAWS: One thing that stands out is that the author excludes women from her sample and therefore only presents the reader with a one sided account. It would have been interesting to involve the spouses of the men involved in the study. It also leaves out many groups. It makes no mention of homosexual households and also for the most part leaves out common law living arrangements. Another flaw that the author identified is the relatively young age of the sample. She also does not provide her sampling techniques and does not reveal the actual numbers of married, single and divorced men included in her sample.

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