Gender Pay Gap in Professional Sports

Photo by Abhishek Chandra on Unsplash

“To put it really simple: If you don’t respect women’s basketball, you’re a joke. You’re a joke, man.”

                                                                                         — Isiah Thomas, Former NBA All-Star


“WNBA Players Should Stop Complaining. If Anything, They’re Overpaid”

                                                                      — Tho Bishop, Assistant Editor for the Mises Wire


       The quotes above seem to embody the sentiments that typify the social discourse surrounding the issue of equity of pay in sports. A major drawback in today’s discussions pertaining to the issue of fair pay is that it is often scrutinized as a political issue. It is. But framing the issue as entirely political omits the fact that it is also economic.

       While the arms of normative economics wrestle with the question of fairness, positive economics is concerned with the description, quantification and explanation of economic issues. The goal of this paper is to add to the current discourse regarding fair pay by examining the talent market of the Women’s National Basketball Association as a case study. Framing the issue of equitable compensation as a study of economic efficiency, I focus my analysis primarily on entertaining the “what is” question. Is there an inefficiency in the labor market for the WNBA players in terms of player pay?

       The finished paper can be found here. And, for those interested, here’s the data.