NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 5, 2006

Once relegated to being nurses, teachers or stay-at-home mothers, millions of women today run businesses, own property and have graduate-level degrees, says the Standard-Times (New Bedford, Mass.). 

In fact, according to national statistics, more women than ever are working alongside men:

  • The labor force participation rate of women between 25 and 55 years of age more than doubled between 1950 and 2000.
  • Less than 12 percent of mothers with children under age 6 were in the labor force in 1950; today, more than 60 percent are working.
  • Two-income families constitute two-thirds of all married couples and women account for 59 percent of the American workforce.

However, in a new book, "Leaving Women Behind: Modern Families, Outdated Laws," authors Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal, and John Goodman and Celeste Colgan of the National Center for Policy Analysis, contend that major economic institutions deny these modern-day realities by weighting the tax system to reward families comprised of a full-time worker and a stay-at-home spouse.  For example:

  • The first dollar a married woman earns is taxed at her husband's highest rate, regardless of her income level.
  • Women must pay Social Security taxes on every dollar they earn even if their husbands max out on their Social Security taxes, and receive few, if any, extra benefits in return.
  • A woman in a middle-income family can expect to keep 35 cents out of every dollar she earns when all taxes and working and living costs, such as daycare, are considered.

The authors recommend initiating a benefit system that gives employees more choices, makes benefits portable and makes the tax system fairer for two-earner households.

Source: Brian Fraga, "Working women have come a long way, baby," Standard-Times (New Bedford, Mass.), September 5, 2006.


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