Contrasting Economic Analyses of Equal Remuneration: The Social and Community Services (SACS) Case
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Industrial tribunals and stakeholders involved in wage hearings are sometimes called upon to consider and weigh contrasting evidence that, due to its technical nature,may be inaccessible to non-specialists. This article investigates the example of two different economic analyses of gender and pay that were submitted to Fair Work Australia as part ofan ‘equal remuneration’ case for workers in the social and community services sector. Itdemonstrates how the different analyses partly reflect the different theoretical approachesto the analysis of labour exchange implicit in the alternative submissions, and investigatesthe strengths and weaknesses these approaches posed when attempting to explain gendered patterns of pay in the care sector. The article argues that understanding the key assumptions and definitions underlying each type of economic analysis can contribute to an improved comprehension of the different viewpoints on gender pay equity among economists. Of particular importance are: the contrasting approaches to understanding differences between specific jobs and a group of jobs categorized as occupations; the meanings attached to the terms ‘value’ and ‘productivity’; and the distinction between discrimination and undervaluation.
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