Aria Bendix is a frequent contributor to The Atlantic, and a former editorial fellow at CityLab. Her work has appeared on Bustle and The Harvard Crimson.
U.S. counties with more women of prime working age are also those with the least gender-based income inequality.
We’re all familiar with the fact that women comprise just over half of the U.S. population. We’ve lamented the statistics that a mere 17 percent of board members at Fortune 500 companies are women, or that women hold just under 9 percent of top management positions. We know the best states for women, the worst states for women, and all those in between. What we don’t often account for is the ever-shifting geography of the female population.
A new map from Dadaviz CEO Jishai Evers does just that. Using data from the 2010 U.S. Census, Evers maps the distribution of men and women across all counties in the U.S. based on age range. The maps start by tracking residents younger than age five and end with those age 85 and above. Counties with a higher female population are represented in pink, while those with a higher male population are represented in blue. The results clearly show that the number of counties with more women increase and the number with more men decrease as each population grows older.
This reversal in population demographics is no doubt attributed to the fact that women live longer than men—five to ten years longer, to be exact. And there’s plenty of research out there that explains why this may be.
But the Dadaviz maps are significant beyond what they tell us about life expectancy in the U.S., and have already sparked a lively debate on the internet, Evers says. After the maps were released, users on Reddit began to speculate as to why the female population seemed to migrate toward the East Coast as their age increased. Many thought it was perhaps the case that women were moving to places where more or better jobs were available, while men on average were more attracted to rural-type communities in the Midwest. Evers found no proof of either in his analysis of the U.S. Census data.
But while Evers’ map drew attention for its representation of the relationship between age and gender, it actually began as a way to illustrate inequality. Initially, Evers had wanted to explore the gender dynamics of his home city, Tel Aviv. “I wanted to look at inequality on a micro-level,” he says, “because it’s something that really touches a community.” But he soon became frustrated by what he felt was a lack of sophisticated census data for Tel Aviv, so he decided to examine the U.S. instead.
Although Evers’ mission was to chart geographic inequality, his data can also be used to track other issues of inequality plaguing our nation today. Take, for instance, a comparison of Dadaviz's maps with Slate's map of gender income inequality, which uses data from the same 2010 Census. According to the Slate map, the best cities for women in terms of income equality were Washington D.C., Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Santa Fe, New York, and Boston.
Let’s compare this to Dadaviz's map of the population distribution for women of prime working age (between 25-54). It would appear that the U.S. female population becomes increasingly concentrated in Texas and the East Coast as they age. Somewhere around ages 45-49, however, the gender distribution becomes scattered across the country.
With the exception of a few cities in California, the maps suggest that areas with more women of prime working age are also those with the least income inequality. On the whole, counties on the East Cast seem to have both a greater population of working women and a smaller gender pay gap.
In contrast, the Upper Midwest and Western regions of the U.S. seem to have both larger wage gaps and larger male populations. Wyoming, for instance, has the worst income inequality of any state (women make 56 cents for every dollar made by the average working man), and the second highest male population in the country.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Nevada, for example, is one of the best states in terms of income equality, and also happens to have a consistently higher male population across most age brackets. All the same, it’s a curious coincidence that more working-age women seem to be populating the areas with lower wage gaps.
It’s also unclear what might be causing this relationship. Perhaps it’s the case that women have slowly migrated to certain areas in order to receive a better wage, or at the very least to be a part of a climate that is more accepting of women in the workplace. Or perhaps it’s the case that larger female populations have a louder collective voice in their demands for income equality, and therefore reap the benefits of their efforts in those counties or states.
Whatever the case may be, more working-age women seem to be living in areas where their potential earnings are higher. But that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty of room for improvement when it comes to the wage gap, which is still 22 percent on average across the country. After all, women shouldn’t have to wait until they’re 85 and all the men have died off to finally run the country.