June 29, 2008
NO BABIES? That’s in Europe. Here’s the difference between Europe and the United States:
â€œThereâ€™s much less flexibility in the European system,â€ Haub says. â€œIn Europe, both the society and the job market are more rigid.â€ There may be little state subsidy for child care in the U.S., and there is certainly nothing like the warm governmental nest that Norway feathers for fledgling families, but the American system seems to make up for it in other ways. As Hans-Peter Kohler of the University of Pennsylvania writes: â€œIn general, women are deterred from having children when the economic cost â€” in the form of lower lifetime wages â€” is too high. Compared to other high-income countries, this cost is diminished by an American labor market that allows more flexible work hours and makes it easier to leave and then re-enter the labor force.â€ An American woman might choose to suspend her career for three or five years to raise a family, expecting to be able to resume working; that happens far less easily in Europe.
Flexibility is the key to success. But read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Related thoughts here.