(WOMENSENEWS)–Dated methodology suggesting women have shorter work-life expectancies than men could leave relatives of female Sept. 11 victims with smaller monetary awards than those who lost men in the terrorist attacks.

A panel of economists has said that the fund’s preliminary rules contain "glaring errors in methodology," and treat female workers unfairly.

John Ward, an economics professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, said the fund currently plans to rely on outdated federal tables that underestimate the length of a woman’s work life. Statistics show that women generally work about five years less than men, in part because of family responsibilities. But that gap has narrowed in the past two decades and Ward said the plan ignores an average of 25 hours of housework per week done by working women–worth up to $300,000 in a lifetime–compared to 10 hours for men.

"It’s unfair to a woman who died or women who were severely injured," Ward said.

In response, Michael Rozen, deputy special master of the fund, was quoted as saying that, while the final payments will be based partly on gender, they would be still be fair.

"When we are presented with individual facts, we will certainly take into account differing work-life expectancies between men and women," Rozen told Newsday, adding that individual circumstances would be factored into the final decisions on compensation.

Rozen added the final rules wouldn’t necessarily rely on the dated federal tables, but would use the "best information." The final rules are scheduled to be published later this month.



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