Bloomberg has announced that “modern motherhood has economists worried.” They argue that “a better balance between work and family could boost the world economy.” That better balance? For women choosing to stay at home either part- or full-time with their children, to put said children into daycare and get back to work.
Since the demands of parenting are a key factor keeping women out of the workforce, Yellen and other economists are focusing on the barriers that parents, especially mothers, face—among them the high cost of child care and a lack of workplace flexibility. “To keep women and men productive in the labor market, it is a good idea to have supporting institutions that can ease some of the burdens of both single parents and married couples with children,” said Torsten Slok, chief international economist at Deutsche Bank.
When will we get tired of hearing that our children need to be institutionalized so we can get back to making a valuable contribution to society by working? Not anytime soon, apparently. Parents magazine is also riding the “quality, affordable childcare in pursuit of career” bandwagon. Their expert says we all must:
…work to eradicate the gender wage gap by ensuring that it’s socially acceptable for both men and women to take time off to care for their children, supporting programs that increase the availability of good quality affordable childcare for all parents, and by developing long-term programs—beginning in grade school, throughout high school and college, and into the work years—aimed at removing the gender bias and social taboos associated with career choices.
The mythical “pay gap” exists between men and women because women choose to take time off from work to parent. Encouraging men to do the same only evens the economic playing field by permitting companies to financially penalize male workers for choosing to take time away from work to spend with their children. As far as education goes, how about “developing a long-term program” that includes family planning education for teenagers beyond basic instructions on how to use condoms and avoid STDs? Perhaps one that “removes the social taboos” associated with choosing to take time out of the workforce to have a family, let alone dedicate time to raising children?
Economists are using the fact that many women postpone retiring as the ultimate scare tactic in the conversation. Hurry up and get back to work, lest you have to keep working until you’re 70! The ageist remark is simply another form of discrimination: Not only are women more useful in the workplace than at home raising children, they’d better get back into the office while they’re young enough to be worth anything to the economy and to themselves.
What’s more, they fail to note that full-time working mothers who put children under the age of two into daycare for more than 20 hours per week might be doing more harm than good to the future of the economy. Research has shown these children are more prone to anxiety and aggression issues as well as ADHD diagnoses. Diagnoses that lead to prescribed medications and therapies costing big bucks. The ability of these children to become healthy, productive contributors to society as adults remains to be seen. But, it’s not like they’re earning any money now, so mom, get back to work.