Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Monday, January 11, 2016

Family Growth, Not Pay Gap, Will Grow Our Economy

Listening to Republican presidential candidates, we hear a lot of talk about how “economic growth” is the way to save Social Security and Medicare without bankrupting our nation. The Chinese Communists, facing a similar problem of reduced economic growth in an aging population, have decided that what really needs to grow is the size of their families. Jeb Bush has promised to double America’s growth rate to 4 percent, partly by giving a special tax break to induce married women to enter (or remain in) the paid labor force. That’s the wrong policy if you realize, as China’s leaders do, that more young people are needed to sustain the economy of the future.

Most women who marry and have a family leave the labor force during some part of their lives, and we should be glad they do, even if their lifetime earnings suffer as a result. A policy that expects women to remain in the full-time labor force, pursuing a lifelong career of full-time work, may help to close the supposed “pay gap” between men and women, but it will mean fewer children.

A feminist reporter for Bloomberg Business set out to find where women’s participation in the labor force is lowest and the male-female pay gap is the biggest. She found her answer in Utah, and specifically in the medium-sized cities of Provo and Ogden, about an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City. The reporter was shocked to find that in Utah, only 52.8% of mothers with young children are in the labor force, compared with 95.5% of fathers. That’s “the biggest gap in the nation.” A University of Utah demographer said, “By every major metric, we’re about two generations behind the nation.”

Family-friendly Utah, which has the nation’s highest birth rate, also boasts the highest economic growth rate. The best way to improve the economy is to strengthen the family.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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