By Emily Peck

The gender wage gap is actually worse than you think, with women earning slightly less than half of what men make over the long term, according to a report released Wednesday by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

The standard wage gap measure put out annually by the Census Bureau currently shows that women make 80 cents for every male dollar earned. (Earnings are even lower for women of color.) But the statistic misses the bigger picture, said economist Stephen Rose, a fellow at the Urban Institute who co-authored the paper.

The census data only considers those men and women who actually worked, full-time, in one given year. But women are generally less likely to work full-time consistently throughout their careers. They scale back hours, or take time out of the labor force entirely, to raise children or to serve as caretakers for family members.

To tease out the long-term impact of these disruptions, Rose and co-author Heidi Hartmann looked at earnings and pay over a 15 year period ― from 2001 to 2015. The data set they chose follows the same people over that time period.

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