“The loveliest theories are being overthrown by these damned experiments; it's no fun being a chemist anymore.”

Justus von Liebig

IWV-PFA-Treatment & Design of Experiment Details

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Design of Experiment & Survey Instrument

In order to test the effectiveness of competing messages on the Paycheck Fairness Act, respondents were randomly assigned to one of five conditions in a true experiment – four treatment groups and a control:

  • Control Condition
    Respondents read and rated Progressive and IWV messages on the PFA after the primary policy questions were answered, and otherwise recieved the same survey questions as other respondents.
  • Progressive Condition (Progressive-Only Message)
    Respondents read the core arguments from a recent article by Progressive Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
  • IWV “Choice” Condition (Choice+Progressive Messages)
    Respondents read 1) an argument focused on why the PFA is not necessary because women are already protected from wage discrimination, the wage gap is a myth, and differences are caused by women’s choices AND 2) read the Progressive message on the PFA.
  • IWV “Economy” Condition (Economy+Progressive Messages)
    Respondents read 1) an argument focused on why the PFA would be bad for business, job creation and the economy AND 2) read the Progressive message on the PFA.
  • IWV “Comprehensive” Condition (Economy+Choice+Progressive Messages)
    Respondents read 1) IWV’s “Choice” message, 2) IWV’s “Economy” message, AND 3) the Progressive message on the PFA.

All respondents otherwise answered the same survey questions in an identical survey instrument. The order in which the messages were presented respondents in each condition was randomized, as were other questions and responses where appropriate.

This means we can see how each message and combination of messages impact opinion compared to the control. Using statistical analysis, we can determine which messages are effective and which aren’t.

Respondents in the control group were not exposed to a “treatment.” Rather in the survey we simply asked respondents if they found each argument “convincing” or “unconvincing” (the way they would in a standard poll to test the effectiveness of a message). In this case, the Progressive messages were seen as very convincing; and the IWV arguments were less convincing. Our experimental results demonstrate that what people SAY is convincing/unconvincing doesn’t necessarily translate into how a message will actually impact their relevant opinions or behavior.

Progressive Treatment

Support the PFA

There is still more that must be done to address the wage gap facing American women. On average, women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns for doing the same job. The Paycheck Fairness Act would give women the legal tools they need to close the wage gap and it would close loopholes that have been used to get around the Equal Pay Act.

Too often, women cannot address gender discrimination in the workplace because they cannot access the information they need to determine whether or not this discrimination is occurring. The PFA would give women the legal tools and safeguards they need to address this very problem. It would toughen the requirements for employers to demonstrate a legitimate business reason for a wage gap between its male and female employees and would prohibit retaliation against employees who sought information on how their pay compared to that of their co-workers.

When women make less, it hurts our economy, our communities and our families. It means less money in take-home pay that can be spent on goods and services.

It’s also unfair to our mothers, sisters, and daughters. They earn the right to equal pay each and every day by punching in and doing their jobs as well as anyone, and their compensation should reflect their talent, commitment, and creativity.

Equal pay for women is critical to families’ economic security and our nation’s economic recovery. Ensuring basic fairness in our economy is a central tenet of creating an economy that’s built to last.

IWV “Choice” Treatment

Oppose the PFA

There are already two federal laws in place to protect employees from gender-based wage discrimination—the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Equal Pay Act (1963).

Moreover, the PFA is premised on the myth of the so-called “wage gap,” that women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. However, if you control for variables like education, college major, or time spent out of the workforce this gap largely disappears.

The differences in pay between men and women come down to choices. Choices women—and men—make have consequences. More women than men choose to take time off to raise a family, and therefore have less experience and earn less later on. Some women may choose to accept a lower salary if it means they have the ability to work part-time, flexible hours, or work from home.

The fact is women outperform men in college-graduation rates, advanced degrees, purchasing power, and earnings in some areas. Differences between men and women are the result of freedom and choices, not discrimination.

IWV “Economy” Treatment

Oppose the PFA

The PFA would tightly regulate how employers can pay their employees. This law will not create “equal” pay; it will expand the definition of “wage discrimination,” make it easier to file class-action lawsuits, and open businesses up to greater litigation and uncertainty.

It would make it nearly impossible for employers to tie compensation to work quality, productivity and experience, reduce flexibility in the workplace, and make it far easier to file frivolous lawsuits. Ultimately, this bill will hurt all workers, especially women, who will become far more costly to employ.

Democrats want to do this at a time when government should back off and allow businesses to make hiring decisions that make the most sense. All of this would be devastating to job creation.