Two scorecard-related announcements this week led me to think about the question of worth and how we measure it.
The Worth of Your Work
First, How Much have Global Problems Cost the World?: A Scorecard from 1900 to 2050, was published, edited by Bjørn Lomborg, an adjunct with the Copenhagen Business School. Lomborg wrote an article for The Atlantic summarizing the results of the report card. Overall, this books sounds like it offers a great perspective on the material progress that humanity has made and continues to make.
One of the measures, however, struck me as a bit odd: gender equality. Not the issue itself, but the way in which it was measured:
In 2012, women’s lower salaries and exclusion from the workplace cost the global economy 7 percent of GDP, the difference between boom and bust. How did we get that figure? We looked at how much more women could have contributed to GDP if they had worked as much as men and with the same pay. Today, women earn only 60 percent as much as men and make up just 40 percent of the workforce—a significant improvement from 15 percent in 1900, but still a ways off from gender parity. Even by 2050 the gender ratio will not yet be even, and women will still earn 30 percent less than men. [Emphasis added.]
Lomborg has clarified that the measure used in this case takes into account both paid and unpaid work, expressed in terms of GDP. Reducing questions of equality, however, to an economic measure creates the false impression that how much you are paid is an accurate measure of how much you are worth.