Sunday, December 14, 2014

Paid parental leave is still an issue of "logic"


Check the New York Times Sunday Business today December 14, 2014, “The Flexibility Gap”, article by Claire Cain Miller and Liz Alderman, link here.  Once again, the writers take up the relative lack of “family friendly policies” in the United States as opposed to western Europe (most of all, France and Sweden). 
  
In the US, there is a “free market” idea:  if you have children, you’re responsible for your own choice.  It isn’t hard to see how this does effect women’s competitiveness in the job market, until fathers do more at home (which has been covered here before).  In fact, in some high competitive areas, if affects all parents, unless companies do something about it on their own (which Silicon Valley employers like Facebook and Google find it very much in their best business interest to do on their own – the whole libertarian point). 
   
Still, there is a logical trap.  People could decide it isn’t in their “selfish best interest” to have children at all, unless they have religious motives, love children, believe that children provide vicarious immortality, or have some other reason.  Having kids costs something.  When there are paid parental benefits, the equation changes.  People can effectively be penalized (indirectly) for not having children.  This migrates all the way to the gay marriage and gay parenting debate.  

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