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by
Paula Bolyard

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October 21, 2013 - 3:00 pm

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Whether she intended to or not, MSNBC host Katty Kay touched on an issue so politically incorrect that you can’t even mention it in polite company — the fact that increased gender diversity in the workplace has resulted in fewer women being able to choose to stay home with their kids. The gender diversity we now see is the result of government policies that, while well-intended, have made it more difficult for mothers to stay home with their children and more difficult to make the choice to homeschool. In his book, The Family in America, Allan Carlson explains some of the history of how we got to where we are today. He notes a shift in the Family Wage Ratio, which divides the median income of the households with working wives by the median income of households where the wives are not employed.

Note that this ratio was quite stable between 1951 and 1969… This was a time when culturally sustained job segregation by gender (“men’s jobs” and “women’s jobs”) reinforced the breadwinner/homemaker family, reserving the higher paid positions for husbands and fathers.

Carlson said that after Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made gender discrimination illegal the ratio changed, but not necessarily to the benefit of the family.

Overall, total family hours devoted to paid employment each week rose by over 50 percent between 1970 and 1998. Yet the real median family income for these dual income households rose by only 31 percent. Among one-income households, average real income declined between 1970 and 1993…It is reasonable to assume that the collapse of the family wage regime contributed.

In other words, when men and women began competing for the same jobs and women left their homes for the workplace, one-income families saw an overall decline in their incomes as higher salaries for jobs traditionally reserved for male breadwinners disappeared. And income for dual-income families rose, but disproportionately with the amount of time mothers now spent outside the home.

Carlson sites several other social factors that have resulted in the decline of the family and concludes that:

There is compelling evidence that these dramatic changes in American social life have been linked, in turn, to a rise in juvenile crime, a sharp increase in the incidence of drug abuse, the decay in the educational performance of youth, a sharp rise in youth suicide, and (in part) soaring levels of health care costs.

Is the idea of mothers leaving the workplace to homeschool their children completely unrealistic? Perhaps not.

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All Comments   (10)
All Comments   (10)
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Ah, diversity, diversity! That lofty goal!

Only, it's not.


Diversity is no more intrinsically good than change is intrinsically good.

Liberty is a worthy goal.

Diversity is not.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Carlson's statistics, while at first disheartening, are actually quite expected if translated into an economics vocabulary. Paid employment hours rising by 50% while income for dual income household rose 30% just means there were diminishing returns to the family's labor. Single-income household's income declining is likely a result of a increase in supply of labor.

We experience this in my family. My wife picks up a couple of hours a week, she's not being paid what she's "worth" but that extra bit of income makes a big difference to us! We both regret that we feel the need for her to make this sacrifice.

I would love to be protectionist about my labor value. If you only knew how awesome I was you would pay me 10-100x what I make now. Unfortunately there are enough other people similar to me out there.. yada yada.. supply and demand. As much as it sucks to compete with a larger pool of labor I am optimistic enough to *believe* I am getting better products cheaper due to all that talent - even above and beyond whatever "pay cut" I am theoretically taking. This is not the crux of the article, but I hate to see conservatives appear to parrot liberal-style protectionism even if disguised by an unusual context.

PS We plan to home school.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm not really advocating for protectionism. We're not going to put that toothpaste back in the tube. Carlson's book also documents how government solutions (tax credits for childcare, easy access to mortgages for non-marrieds, etc.) have increased the burden on single-income families. Carlson calls the childcare tax credit an indirect tax on single-income families, whose childcare providers (usually the mothers) receive neither salary nor tax credit for their work. Government meddling almost always makes the problem worse.

Carlson also notes (with guarded optimism) that the ability to work from home may help level the playing field and encourage more families to keep a parent at home.

I would say that a high percentage of homeschooling families I know have some sort of second income, whether its from the father working two jobs or the mother doing some kind of work from home -- even families that live very, very frugally. It's just a sad fact of our current economic reality.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thank you for your reply Paula. I forward many of your articles to my wife since we will need to make a real decision about homeschooling in a few short years.

Another "tax" accrued to larger families - regardless of income I suppose - is the creeping requirement on car seats forcing larger and more expensive vehicles.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
True, but many families I know where both parents work have double sets of car seats because one parent drops off the kids at daycare or school and the other picks them up!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Are there ways of having a home school "co-op," with each family teaching the kids for one or two days a week?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes! They come in all varieties! We belonged to one where the kids met on Fridays for classes. Different moms and dads taught classes and usually assigned work for the week. The kids would work on it throughout the week (with their parents supervising/helping) and bring their work back the following week to be graded. We did this for English, science, and history.

There's also something called "Classical Conversations" with groups across the country. They teach a formal classical curriculum and, if I'm not mistaken, hire teachers.

Other groups are more or less structured. There is a lot of room for creativity.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't see where you jumped to 'diversity' in the workplace being a culprit here. Working is a choice for some women, a necessity for others. I think that was the point. The idea of women's presence benefiting the workplace was the reason diversity was mentioned.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I agree, the cause and effect relation between diversity and women's labor allocation was a little fuzzy in spots. I think the point of this article is that what's-her-name on TV was more concerned about diversity than about a mothers responsibility for her children.

Maybe "diversity" is a reason people work to influence women to leave home for the workplace, but I don't believe many women even consider "diversity" when making a personal decision to create a second income.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I find the lib assumption that the homeschooling parent is automatically a woman to be more telling

Editited just for kicks
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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