NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

POLICIES THAT WORK FOR WORKING FOLKS

February 7, 2008

America needs policies that work for people who work.  American women -- and all American workers -- need flexibility, portability, and security.  They deserve no less, says Terry Neese, a distinguished fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

  • Between 1950 and 2000, the labor force participation rate of women between 25 and 55 years of age more than doubled.
  • Today, more than 75 percent of these women are in the labor market; less than 12 percent of mothers with children under age 6 were in the labor force in 1950.
  • Today, more than 60 percent work outside the home.

Public policy and major institutions never kept pace, says Neese.  Tax law, labor law and other institutions are still designed from top-to-bottom for an "Ozzie and Harriet" lifestyle.  The labor market does not provide most women with the flexibility they need in the 21st century.

Some suggested reforms:

  • Fix the tax system so it's fairer for two-earner couples; both spouses should be able to file separate tax returns, if that benefits them.
  • Create a flexible employee benefits system that makes it fairer for dual-earner couples.
  • Make labor laws flexible, which would allow parents with young children and caregivers for elderly parents to choose alternatives to the traditional 40-hour work week.
  • Create a level playing field, under tax laws, for people who save for retirement, purchase health insurance, long-term insurance and/or day care.
  • Provide the same level of tax relief for people who save for retirement, purchase health insurance, long-term insurance and/or day care as those who obtain these benefits at work.

Source:  Terry Neese, "Policies that work for working folks," Washington Times, February 7, 2008.

 

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