The Heritage Foundation on What Women Want

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Written by Shawn Fremstad   
Tuesday, 07 September 2010 13:05

Expanding on David's last post about the Heritage Foundation's newfound interest in family leave, it's also worth noting that Heritage's claim that "for the vast majority [sic] married moms, the workplace is not the top choice of where they want to spend their days" is a somewhat imprecise summation of the survey data they cite. What the survey data cited by Heritage really show is a plurality of married women with children (46 percent) would prefer to combine less-than-full-time employment in the paid labor force with less-than-full-time care work in the household. When combined with the 18 percent who prefer full-time paid work, this means that the "vast majority" (about 64 percent) actually prefer either full-time or part-time paid work to full-time unpaid care work. This isn't particularly surprising given that the employment rate for married women with children was 67.8 percent in 2009.

Given, as David noted, Heritage's opposition to narrowly targeted, means-tested income supplements for at-home child care (at least for single parents), it does leave one wondering what policies they have in mind when they say that "taxpayers and policymakers should work to promote policies that would enable moms to make the choice to stay at home and care for their children." Of course, there's always the all-purpose conservative policy fix of tax cuts for the well-off, but there's no evidence that tax cuts increase at-home care. In fact, the last several decades of increasing female labor force participation have been accompanied by cuts in marginal tax rates.  A solution that would actually work (i.e., have the intended effect of increasing the time parents spend with children) would be to provide moms and dads with paid family leave and increased workplace flexibility so that they can combine work and family duties.