NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 16, 2006

The single most important economic and sociological change in our society in modern times has been the entry of women into the labor market, says John C. Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

For example:

  • Over the past 50 years, 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. Families with both spouses in the labor market now constitute almost two-thirds of all married couples.

Despite remarkable changes, tax and labor laws and many other institutions are still designed from top-to-bottom for an Ozzie and Harriet lifestyle, says Goodman.

Our institutions were not only designed for the full-time worker with a stay-at-home spouse, employers and employees find it difficult to accommodate any other arrangement:

  • Because of the rigidities of tax law and employee benefit law, if Ozzie and Harriet work full time, they will likely receive duplicate, unnecessary sets of benefits.
  • Harriet will be unable to acquire higher wages in return for forgoing health and pension benefits she acquires through Ozzie's employer.

And, not every two-earner couple wants to work 40 hours. Women raising children or caring for an ailing parent want flexibility in hours. Again, our inflexible tax laws make such arrangements almost impossible for people who need health insurance and retirement benefits in addition to wage income, says Goodman.

Source: John C. Goodman (National Center for Policy Analysis), "Outdated laws leave workplace mothers behind," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 14, 2006.

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