General Question

Strauss's avatar

What's the difference between a percentage of a sum and a percentage less than a sum?

Asked by Strauss (22260points) May 19th, 2015

I just watched a report on MSNBC on the gender pay gap. Statistics were reported in the following way:

US women, on average, are earn $0.77 for every dollar earned by men.

Women in least developed countries earn “up to 30% less than men”.

The first statement is fairly easy to understand. It means that US women, on average, earn 77% of US men.

Let’s look at the second statement: I’m not sure how to calculate “30% less”. Wouldn’t it be the same as ”‘as little as’ 70%” of what men make?

This question is not meant to address the gender gap in wages, either in the US or anywhere in the world.

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4 Answers

Mariah's avatar

Let’s look at the second statement: I’m not sure how to calculate “30% less”. Wouldn’t it be the same as ”‘as little as’ 70%” of what men make?

Yes, this.

jerv's avatar

Yes, “30% less” is 70%. It’s two different ways to say the same thing. Word problems throw a lot of people.

Remember, we are talking about an audience who cannot calculate a 20% tip in their head, so saying “as low as 70%” may not convey the point that women get paid less the way a phrase containing the word “less” will. And the point of the story isn’t how much of a difference there is, but rather which direction the difference is in; the major point is simply that women get paid less, with the “up to 30%” being secondary.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
dappled_leaves's avatar

“I’m not sure how to calculate “30% less”. Wouldn’t it be the same as ”‘as little as’ 70%” of what men make?”

Yes. Let’s say the man is earning $100.00.

If the woman earns 70% of this, it is calculated as 100 x 0.70 = $70.00.

If the woman earns 30% less, it is calculated as 100 – (100 x 0.30) = 100 – 30 = $70.00.

These are two different ways to say (or calculate) the same thing.

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