Comparable worth is the name of a movement that began in the 1980s to determine the worth of different jobs and then to adjust relative wage rates to the relative worth of those jobs. The movement gains most of its support from the belief that women are unfairly discriminated against in the labor market. The jobs at which most of them work (e.g., secretaries and nurses) are widely and unfairly regarded as
women's jobs and so are allegedly paid less than their
comparable worth. The comparison is with jobs traditionally held by men.
- Can a job have an inherent worth? Can you think of any situation where the worth of a job is not its value to some particular party in a specific situation?
Nothing has any value except for it's possible use to some person in a particular situation.
- Imagine a medical clinic with 20 medical doctors, one nurse, and one laboratory technician. Is it plausible to suppose that an additional nurse or lab technician could have more worth to the clinic in such a situation than an additional doctor?
Easily. Perhaps certain tasks can really only be done by the lab tech. They can only work so fast. A new doctor will generate new lab tests to be done which can't be done with only one lab tech. Thus he can't actually bring in as much income to the clinic as a new tech will, who will enable the doctors to generate more lab tests.
- The worth or value that influences decisions is always marginal marginal worth or value. Why is a secretary worth more to the economics department it it employs only one than if it employs eight? Describe a situation in which the worth of a secretary to the economics department would likely be greater than the worth of an economist fully armed with a Ph.D.
If there are no secretaries, and the befuddled economists can't operate their phones, they can get very little research done because they can't order their statistics. Adding a secretary adds a bunch more tasks that another economist cannot do very well. All of the economists would end up much less productive as they share the secretarial tasks, and possibly not even getting any research done at all. Adding a secretary might add more economics publications than another economist, even though the secretary writes no economics research herself.
- Why will an employer who follows the maxmimizing rule of Chapter 9—do more if marginal revenue exceeds marginal cost, less if marginal cost exceeds marginal revenue—want to pay each employee a wage equal to his or her marginal worth? What would be implied by the assertion that an employer was paying employees less than their marginal worth?
It would mean that there is a large supply of the employee's services. Meaning that although the employer could pay more, he doesn't have to because the supply is large enough to provide alternatives at less cost.