The conventional wisdom is that Republicans are more skilled when it comes to handling the country’s economy. We’re not sure how that came about since—think about it—a Republican was president (Herbert Hoover) when the U.S. went into the Great Depression, when the financial markets melted down in 2008 (George W. Bush) to take us into the Great Recession, and when pandemic-induced pandemonium hit earlier this year (Donald Trump).
But in any case, it turns out that when Democrats are in the majority at a given state House of Representatives or occupy the White House, women do better in terms of income and employment, according to a new study by the University of California San Diego.
In 2018, female wages across all 50 states were, on average, about 70 percent that of men. According to the study, however, just a few years after Democrats take control in a given state, that gap lessens by 3.6 percent. Even just a slim Democratic majority in the state legislature is estimated to produce a reduction of 2.6 percent in the wage gap.
“We find that electing a Democratic majority to the state house leads to substantial improvement in women’s incomes, wages, and unemployment relative to men – especially in recent years,” said the authors of the study. “We also show that greater female representation in office and more liberal policymaking on policies related to women’s rights could be driving that process.”
All the Way to the Top
Researchers examined increases and decreases in gender inequality across presidential administrations over the past half century. Once again, Democratic control appears to foster more equal treatment of women in the workplace, at least monetarily. Over the past 50 years, women’s income grew nearly twice as fast ($443 more per year) during Democratic presidencies in comparison to when a Republican held the highest office in the land ($284 per year).
Female poverty and unemployment rates also improved more during Democratic presidencies.
“No voting bloc is more important in American elections than women,” says first author Zoltan Hajnal, a professor of political scientist at UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy, in a university release. “With women accounting for more than half of all votes, small shifts in the female vote can and likely will determine who wins in November.”
How to End Gender Pay Gap
The research team reached their conclusions by examining male and female wages, poverty, income and employment rates across all 50 states on an annual basis over the past 50 years. Importantly, they wanted to see when women were “catching up” to men in terms of compensation. They focused specifically on instances when Democrats or Republicans just barely gained a majority advantage in the House.
“Just one year of Democratic control leads to a one percentage point increase in the female-male income ratio, a 0.7 percentage point decline in the wage gap, a 0.4 percent decline in the female-male employment gap, and a .28 percent decline in the male-female poverty gap,” study authors explain.
Researchers say two main factors likely lead to this difference between Democrat and Republican administrations.
“The first is gender policy. Democratic control of the state houses leads to significantly more liberal policies on gender discrimination and access to family planning,” the authors note. “The other factor is female representation. We find that having more women in office also leads to more liberal gender policy and likely contributes to improvement on basic economic indicators for women.”
So, how will you vote this Election Day?