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01/04/2010

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a Duoist

The percentage of women over men earning college degrees is even greater for African Americans than it is for Anglos. Won't such a dramatic improvement in female graduation numbers eventually result in much higher education levels for the entire African American demographic, as those well-educated women begin to devote ever greater amounts of time to the education of their young?

andy adkins

presuming life decisions do not engender deficits that impede innate functioning echolocation (a metacognitive product)

jkoo

http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/education/math-quiz-why-do-men-predominate

-st

Jeff

I think you should probe the fertility rate of Scandanavia vs US more. Could it be that the all in cost of raising a child in Scandanavian countries is far higher, with the highly subsidized, highly taxed, highly socialized society that they have?

That could account for the lower birthrate since the opportunity cost for having a child is far greater.

blake

Er, more likely it's that as countries become developed countries their birthrates go down. Scandanavia functions as a developed country for a far greater percentage of it's population, so it's birthrate should be expected to be lower. The cost of having a child there is actually much lower, but people have their act together more so they avoid unwanted children. Our teenage pregnancy rates are like 5X theirs, and our child poverty rates are like 2x theirs. Get a couple of stats like that in the mix and pretty soon you have a higher birthrate.

Rok Spruk

It is interesting how European and American policymakers are impressed by the Scandinavian approach to subsidizing childcare and paid maternity leave, including generous government support of job safety when women return to work. There has been an extensive critique of unemployment definition in Sweden since many women on childcare and maternity leave are not classified as unemployed considering particular statistical criteria of unemployment.

The difference between the US and Scandinavian approach should not be biased. Why? Because the US labor market is far less regulated than the Swedish one. Greater flexibility in employment contracts and overall labor market structure does not hinge job opportunities. In Sweden and other Nordic nations, extensive government interference in labor market structure led to the situation in which the progress of women after giving birth, childcare and maternity leave has become limited. That is mostly because extensive childcare subsidies increase the opportunity cost of women's career prospects. Thus, childcare subsidies boost the "substitution effect" by encouraging women to spent more time on childcare than on career prospects. And if such policies endure for years, women's expectations about life-time investment in education and career are partly pre-determined, loosing the substantial amount of tet present value of the education investment.

I would agree that extensive and interventionist public policy towards childcare subsidies is not a real solution for further encouraging of women on their career and family prospects. Of course, the subsidies to women with low incomes make economic sense. However the design of subsidy system should rely on "incentives-matter" scheme to prevent adverse selection and moral hazard.

The empirical evidence suggests that Nordic countries enjoy the highest share of women with tertiary education. However, the share is still lower than in the U.S and there's a far higher percentage of American women on top executive position than in Nordic countries. I believe, this pattern can be explain by greater employment flexibility, lower tax burden and lower overall government spending - of which all encourage a well-attained combination of childcare and career prospects.

Jim

A recent study by the American Institutes for Research ("AIR") contains what should be unsettling news. The study, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, surveyed the literacy skills of graduates of four-year colleges and two-year community and junior colleges.

The ability of the students to analyze newspaper stories, comprehend documents and balance a checkbook was assessed. Over half the graduates of four-year colleges and three-quarters of the graduates of junior and community colleges could not be categorized as possessing these "proficient" skills.

Assumming that there is validity to these findings, it would be interesting to compare men with women. Does this say that women are
"empowered" but sitll poorly "educated"

Jack

It's pretty difficult and risky to make sweeping comparisons of two very different societies.

For example in Scandi, the UK and most of Europe school funding is a national obligation so schools tend to be equitably funded whereas in the US they are inequitably funded both from state to state and within the states. TX, MO, NY and others have used every possible court process to delay the mandates now in place to force funding both equitable and adequate.

"WE" seem to reap what we sow, with TX ranking 45th worst in the nation on SAT scores and THAT is after a 30% HS drop out rate and cherry picking only 60% of the student body who take the SAT test.

The point being that a prospective employee having graduated from HS in the US is a poor indicator of his readiness for employment. While the best HS grads, and I know several, would be better prepared than the average holder of a BA, others would be barely literate with few math skills and no background in science.

Thus........ as we see in a quick perusal of the employment ads, the US uses a BA or BS as, hopefully!!! an indication of literacy and the attention span to get through school, perhaps combined with the maturity of a 25 year old.

My guess is that the more uniform educational inputs of Scandi and Europe produce a more uniform graduate with the employer being more confident that the HS skills will meet his needs.

Further, I find all the talk about job flexibility in the US something than is, or may be true for those in the upper third of incomes where they have something of a "franchise" with which to bargain, basically college grads or the very skilled guild members. It's certainly not true for our "rust belt" or much of the rest of our economy.

Jeff, ya did kinda miss it on fertility rates, as having kids in the US is far more burdensome for the parents on a per child basis than in a nation that is more cooperative with the process and hardships of bringing up the next generation. I think others have pointed out that for upper-middle income folk be it the US, Scandi or Europe that they are not keeping up with reproducing themselves. In the US the diff is more than made up for by "blacks" Hispanics, and immigration.

It's a wonder, explainable only by biological urges, a partially blind optimism and the cultures of some, that anyone of median or below income in the US take on the daunting task of raising kids and trying to pay child care while eking out barely more than it costs for a "2nd income" and dealing with "insurances" and our dysfunctional H/C system.

x

I think there are quite a few good points raised in favor of not following the scandanavian system of subsidising women to take paid leave.

However, I think one of the most important points is that it gives the wrong incentives to employers. Employers may preemptively not hire women because they may have to give them paid leave to care for their children and guarantee that they can get their jobs back when they return to work.

Jack

Iris, let's think this through a bit! How do couples want to live during the time of a newcomer to our society? Take a couple days off and back to the mill? If reasonable time off for such an event is seen as lopsided and too costly for the employer let's even it up with family time for the father as well. The Scandi's and others are simply ahead of the US even though they too may have a few problems.

"Too much for industry to pay?" Take a look at the second graph down showing how the "rising tide" of a doubling of productivity over the last 30 years has lifted only the yachts of the topmost "earners" while CEO "compensation" has soared from an already high (compared to other nations) 60 times working folk pay to over 500 times today and that doesn't come close to describing the gleanings of our Wall Street Ponzi schemers!

http://lanekenworthy.net/2008/03/09/the-best-inequality-graph/

In the short run small biz may not be able to pay increased leave time, but one thing that will be necessary if we are to get our economy back on track is better pay for median and lower income folk and ESPECIALLY those working at a min wage that has been, negligently, allowed to fall behind the inflation rate, much less benefit from the doubling of productivity.

IF, we can't find a means to get working folks wages up to where they should be, then I'd suggest increasing tax rates at the topmost tiers and have the Feds subsidize the maternity leave.


E

I'm not entirely certain of the accuracy of the statement that "there's a far higher percentage of American women on top executive position than in Nordic countries". I found official statistics from sweden on the fraction of female senior managers in public companies, which was 28% (down from 34% in 2004), what is the fraction in the US? The number of woman on the board of public companies was 20%. Another statistics I found was that the fraction of woman in the swedish parliament was 47%.

Furthermore, the paid leave that parents are allowed to take after their child's birth are shared between both the father and the mother. The current number of woman on paid child leave is only 56%. Since this is just a extra leave from which the person will return within a specified number of days I don't see why the person should be accounted for as unemployed?

Finally I also wonder if the share of woman with tertiary education is really lower than in the US? I could not find any statistics for this, but I did find one that stated that about 50% of all woman go on to university.

E

Clarification: The fraction of the people on child leave in Sweden who are woman is 56%

Jonathan

It strikes me as odd and interesting than an article on the "economic empowerment of women" overlooks more than half of women, who live in developing countries. Women have long participated in the labor force in these countries, and very actively so if you think about both formal and informal labor markets and self-employment.

Microfinance, for example, has long recognized women's contribution, and helped leverage it to improve living conditions of poor households (including children) and to empower women vis-a-vis their husband and communities. Granted, the impacts of microfinance are not what they were sometimes promised (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~jzinman/Papers/expandingaccess_manila_jan2010.pdf and http://www.povertyactionlab.org/papers/101_Duflo_Microfinance_Miracle.pdf for example), but it's undeniable that microfinance services are extremely valued by poor women. More research is being conducted on that topic, notably at J-PAL (MIT) and at the Financial Access Initiative (http://financialaccess.org).

abercrombie and fitch

Won't such a dramatic improvement in female graduation numbers eventually result in much higher education levels for the entire African American demographic, as those well-educated women begin to devote ever greater amounts of time to the education of their young

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women are capable of reaching too far and do many things!! We are fully independent and already the cliche that we need a man to be economically bn is being left behind! ourselves we can survive alone! are very capable! success girls!

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A recent study by the American Institutes for Research ("AIR") contains what should be unsettling news. The study, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, surveyed the literacy skills of graduates of four-year colleges and two-year community and junior colleges.

The ability of the students to analyze newspaper stories, comprehend documents and balance a checkbook was assessed. Over half the graduates of four-year colleges and three-quarters of the graduates of junior and community colleges could not be categorized as possessing these "proficient" skills.

Assumming that there is validity to these findings, it would be interesting to compare men with women. Does this say that women are
"empowered" but sitll poorly "educated"

Heather

What if greater participation of women in the workforce is not beneficial to society as a whole? What if the forces that drive greater participation of women in the workforce are actually a problem?

All manner of social problems are on the rise according to researchers; increased number of children in foster care, increasing divorce rate, increased youth runaways and homelessness, increasing substance abuse by teenagers and the list goes on. How much of this has been caused by lack of mom at home, too tired to effectively deal with the child's problems after a hard day at the office? Too busy earning money?

I don't think people go to work for the challenge or the fun of it. People go to work to earn money and sure, if they can manage to achieve greater job satisfaction it makes the idea of a job more palatable. But the bottom line is we are seeing more women in the workplace because they have to. According to a study in UK, 70% of working moms feel guilty when they leave their children in care and around the same number are unsatisfied with the care their children receive. Obviously these women are not voluntarily going to work.

I believe increased participation of women in the workforce is a sign of deep-seated economic problems not increased liberation.

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