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Two houses, 14 cars, or 37 years of family meals: That’s what the inequality in earnings between women and men can end up costing a woman over her lifetime, according to analysis by the Center for American Progress.

Patricia Arquette threw a spotlight on this issue last night in her acceptance speech for the Best Actress award at the Oscars, where she called for wage equality and equal rights for women. As Arquette suggested, the pay gap has serious economic implications. Working women can’t afford as much education, housing, transportation, food and health care for themselves and their families as working men can, as the infographic below shows.


The reasons for the pay gap are complex, but they likely include discrimination and time taken off for pregnancies and childcare. Research shows that women may also be more likely to accept non-monetary compensation for jobs, like healthcare. The result is that women are more likely to be in poverty. The same is true of households headed by women -- four in 10 households with children in 2013.

The calculations in the infographic above are based on 2010 data, when women made 77 cents on every dollar a man made. In 2010, the median full-time working man took home $47,715 in earnings, while the median full-time working woman made on $36,931, or $10,784 less. Over 40 years of working, that difference comes out to an extra $431,360.

The difference may have narrowed a little since then, but the figures tend to fluctuate. Based on median weekly earnings for full-time workers, in 2013 women made 82 cents for every dollar a man made, according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS hasn’t given annual figures for 2013. In 2012, however, BLS figures show that pay gap was actually larger than in 2010: On an annual basis for full-time, year-round workers, women made 76.5 percent of men’s earnings.

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