The arguments of the ministers Nadia de Calviño (Economy) and Magdalena Valerio (Labor) that link the rise of the minimum wage (SMI) to the fight against the gender wage gap mean a radical change in labor relations. His proposal arises from the observation that 70% of the minimum wage earners are women.
So far, studies on minimum wage increases have focused on their effects on employment. Most research considers that the effects of the SMI increases on employment are inconclusive. And if there are negative consequences they are minimal. In these works only two variables were taken into consideration: the amount of the minimum wage and the volume of employment.
The introduction of a third factor, the wage gap, implies incorporating into the economic analysis the need to eliminate wage inequality between men and women. This perspective of feminist economics is necessary if we want to reduce this unjustifiable social inequality.
The proposal is relevant because in our country the gender wage gap grows. The average annual salary of women was 20,131 euros per year in 2016, 77.6% of that of men. That is, women charged 22.4% less than men, according to the Annual Salary Structure Survey of that year, the latest available. In 2008, the wage gap was lower when women received a salary equivalent to 78.1% of that of men.
The segment of the population that receives the lowest wages is increasingly occupied by women. In 2016, 55% of women had a wage between zero and twice the minimum wage, while men with this income were 35%. In 2008, the percentage of women with low wages was 43% and among men 35%.
Wage discrimination has deep roots. As historian Joan W. Scott points out in Working Women in the 19th Century, "the introduction of women meant that employers had decided to save labor costs".
Professor Mertxe Larrañaga in the book Con voz propio, coordinated by Professor Cristina Carrasco, points out that in addition to wage discrimination, women endure another type of segregation such as job insecurity. In 2018, 22.7% of women and 6.5% of men had part-time employment. Larrañaga points out that "partial employment is fundamentally a women's issue, perhaps because it has been considered that they are jobs that allow the reconciliation of work and family life." Argument that the author herself refutes.
The Finance Minister, María Jesús Montero, considers increasing the SMI to 1,000 euros in 2020. The introduction of this third variable has only just begun and has dislodged the critics of the rise of the SMI, who for now remain silent. Accounts in the capitalist economy are easier to square if there is an exploited part that is not taken into account.