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01/04/2010

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jkoo

"Although I agree with Becker that the most important factors that have influenced female labor-force participation are economic, politics has also played a role, though not necessarily a positive one. Female labor-force participation has been subsidized, in effect, by laws forbidding discrimination on grounds of sex but permitting affirmative action in favor of women, by laws requiring equal pay for equal work, by laws forbidding discrimination on grounds of pregnancy, and by the federal family-leave statute."
Both Profs fail to address the culture change of the society. Culture possibly provide more important role than policies. Just look at Japan, England, vs Russia and China.
-st

Transor Z

Fortunately, the introduction of women to the workforce has improved the buying power of households and led to improved quality of life.

That was sarcasm. In fact, steadily creeping consumer prices for healthcare, transportation, education, and the addition of childcare costs have undermined any benefits. Women's employment is not "voluntary" because average families can't live on a single income in 2010. In my estimation the scale slider is shaded much more to the "wage slave" side of compulsion than the "revolutionary empowerment" side.

Sheng Li

Regarding the first post: I would argue that there is a fairly loose link between “culture” and the female labor participation. Female labor participation rates between countries with of cultural groups but comparable economic development are similar, for example, France and Japan. Conversely, participation rates between countries with similar cultural backgrounds but different political/economic conditions tend to be very different, for example, between North and South Korea.

This should not be surprising. The choice between being employed or being a housewife is determined on the individual level with clear costs and benefits, so that once economic incentives are sufficiently strong towards employment then some individuals will be encouraged to buck the housewife tradition (even at the cost of some social stigma). Once enough individual have abandoned the tradition, the tradition disappears and those women for whom it use to be a prohibitive barrier to employment would then have no find work. Working women may then become the cultural norm and those who otherwise would prefer being a housewife would feel social pressure to seek employment. We already see this among certain groups in America.

Other cultural practices, such as the definition of marriage, style of dress or the adoption of a lingua franca require coordinated action to change, and so are much more resistant to economic incentives then is female employment.

Chris Graves

I agree with most of Judge Posner's insights on the increasing number of women in the workforce. I especially agree with his pointing out the costs of women working outside of the home who either neglect their children emotionally or fail to have children in the first place. These are especially acute problems for women who are more intelligent.

As for women being more likely to feeling vulnerable from easy divorce, this observation might be true as a female begins her education before meeting her mate. But on average, women are much more likely to divorce men than the other way around. And most of these divorces are for trivial reasons. It seems that women are more likely to be happy in a traditional marriage where the man earns at least two-thirds of the family income and provides adequate emotional support for the woman as well. The increased participation and higher incomes of women may contribute to their own marital dissatisfaction as well as the harm done to men and children when women end a marriage. See studies on these issues from Margaret Brinig of George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia and Douglas Allen, economist at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University and sociologists W. Bradford Wilcox
Steven L. Nock of the University of Virginia.

Dan King

This discussion ignores possible changes in men's motivation. In the 1950's, a married man was expected to support his family - and a woman perhaps earned only a little extra. Today, however, women routinely expect to have to support families on their own - men are fickle.

But if a woman can do it on her own, then a man doesn't have to. So a perfectly good male strategy is just to support himself - that's probably the most he has to do in order to land and keep a wife. He can do that for $12-13K per year, and he doesn't need a college degree for that.

Hence I think the relative decline in male college attendance is due in part to this factor.

After all, in evolutionary terms, the goal is to maximize the number of grandchildren with the smallest possible investment. Attending college is no longer a necessary or helpful investment for many men.

GS

You've neglected the fact the education has become extremely anti-male in everything from ideology to its teaching methods.

E.G. Womens and gender studies, the end of competitive sports and classroom activities, reading love stories and not war stories, etc.

RS

The article brings some refreshing insights.

Jack

It's difficult to consider "women going to work" in a vacuum.

Consider, had social mores continued with the custom of women not entering the workforce in large numbers, we'd have faced a shortage of workers in the 70's and beyond. What would have happened?

My guess is that we'd have been forced to increase productivity, and! had we stayed on a concept of a "rising tide lifting ALL of the boats" (which has not been the case since the 70's) those taking jobs would be far better paid than is the case today.

Looking around today, I'd say we're tremendously over-retailed from malls to latte-sellers on every corner which I attribute to the surplus of labor desperate for even the wretched pay common to most retailing, while it makes a "viable biz plan" for the store owners to put a few low paid people in there and build many stores of thin margins, ha! which as we'll soon see makes them extremely vulnerable to steep recession.

As our profs point out, GDP does not measure everything, and certainly not the volunteer, educational and caretaking of older generation folk work done by "stay at home-non-working" wives.

We seem to be a "make work" society where a casual "How are you doing" is met with "Oh.... bizzy as ever!" (Puritanism) The one thing we KNOW about our failing H/C is that we've 10's of thousands of clericals we could easily do without. Indeed, the entire "insurance" industry too has tens of thousands more who could easily be replaced by the web and "pay at the pump" no fault auto insurance. But! we've no way for those replaced to obtain income.

It's like once in Mexico we asked two apple sellers why they sat there together with identical products. "Otherwise we'd have nothing to do all day" was the simple answer.

Ha! so it is! and half a century after women joined the workforce in numbers, with a near tripling of productivity and many labor saving devices, men women eligible kids scurry around being "bizzy" trying to make ends meet. Progress, eh?

jkoo

It is very interesting to see all the "Jack, Andy, Jeff, Chris, Dan,...." agree on women's issue. Hopefully, they have consulted their Mum, wife or girl friend and got the same result. -st

Chris Graves

Be careful of the genetic fallacy, jkoo.

jkoo

Chris, I assume your last comment was consulted your better half. Very smart :-) peace -st

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we never see a real revolution, the only thing happened is just some minor changes.

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I think women are the most precious human sere that has given us life, so I think you always have to look after them and give them all what they deserve and more, I think the thought of them is cause for reflection, thanks for sharing the post!

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This discussion ignores possible changes in men's motivation. In the 1950's, a married man was expected to support his family - and a woman perhaps earned only a little extra. Today, however, women routinely expect to have to support families on their own - men are fickle.

But if a woman can do it on her own, then a man doesn't have to. So a perfectly good male strategy is just to support himself - that's probably the most he has to do in order to land and keep a wife. He can do that for $12-13K per year, and he doesn't need a college degree for that.

Hence I think the relative decline in male college attendance is due in part to this factor.

After all, in evolutionary terms, the goal is to maximize the number of grandchildren with the smallest possible investment. Attending college is no longer a necessary or helpful investment for many men.

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It's like once in Mexico we asked two apple sellers why they sat there together with identical products. "Otherwise we'd have nothing to do all day" was the simple answer.

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It's kind of sad to see western society gives women rights every where else except the work place. Where men dominate...

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If a woman can do it on her own, then a man doesn't have to. So a perfectly good male strategy is just to support himself - that's probably the most he has to do in order to land and keep a wife. He can do that for $12-13K per year, and he doesn't need a college degree for that.

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So a perfectly good male strategy is just to support himself - that's probably the most he has to do in order to land and keep a wife. He can do that for $12-13K per year, and he doesn't need a college degree for that.

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It is very interesting to see all the "Jack, Andy, Jeff, Chris, Dan,...." agree on women's issue. Hopefully, they have consulted their Mum, wife or girl friend and got the same result.

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