03 Jun 2015

“Paid Family Leave” a Great Way to Hurt Women in the Workforce

Economics, Shameless Self-Promotion 14 Comments

My latest at FEE. An excerpt:

For example, if a 23-year-old woman with a fresh MBA is applying to several firms for a career in the financial sector, but she has a serious boyfriend and thinks they might one day start a family, then — other things equal — she is going to highly value a clause in the employment contract that guarantees she won’t lose her job if she takes off time to have a baby. Since female employment in the traditional workforce is now so prevalent, we can expect many employers to have such provisions in in their employment contracts in order to attract qualified applicants. Women don’t have a right to such clauses, just as male hedge-fund VPs don’t have a right to year-end bonuses, but it’s standard for employment contracts to have such features.

14 Responses to ““Paid Family Leave” a Great Way to Hurt Women in the Workforce”

  1. khodge says:

    Before making any argument, especially when using arguments based on what Europe does, you need to, at the very least, identify the relevant reasons that are critical to Europe’s actions. The powers that be in Europe are struggling with the problem of running out of people (at least non-Muslim people). Throwing in arguments like “everyone likes it” takes the crucial economic argument away: what you wish to encourage you subsidize.

  2. scineram says:

    Women don’t have a right to such clauses
    I think the debate right now is whether they should have.

    but it’s standard for employment contracts to have such features.
    Is it now?

    It’s one thing to want such clauses, but do they have the bargaining power?

    • Dan says:

      “I think the debate right now is whether they should have.”

      There is a difference between the State making something legal and having the right to do something. The State made slavery legal, but that didn’t change the fact that George Washington had no right to own slaves.

    • Grane Peer says:

      A woman is not a they. Women don’t have any bargaining power nor should they. A woman has equal bargaining power to any other individual, what they have to bargain with is not necessarily equal to that of any man or any other woman. One thing is certain, you can level down but you can not level up. If some woman’s desire to have a child is putting her at a disadvantage to other individuals then make it so no one can have a child. There, problem solved. Let us see how many more of these issues we can solve before we all have to kill ourselves.

    • Bharat says:

      (I’m elaborating on Dan’s point above)

      Women don’t have a right to such clauses
      I think the debate right now is whether they should have”

      You’re equivocating here without realizing it. Murphy uses the word ‘right’ in the philosophic sense meaning “no one should interfere with this” (negative) or “you can use violence to keep/get this” (positive). Since the word ‘right’ in this sense already deals with morality, saying “they should have a right” (continuing to use the word in this sense) is just a tautology.

      When you use the word ‘right’ (implied) at the end of your sentence, you’re using it to mean “they should be guaranteed something by the government.” This action by the government can be based on an argument that the positive right (used in the first sense) for something exists, but Murphy is pointing out it doesn’t exist (according to libertarians).

  3. Matt M says:

    As a man who will have a fresh MBA in about nine months, I hope mandatory maternity leave comes here soon. It will give me that much more of a competitive advantage on the job market.

    • khodge says:

      For shame. How dare you take advantage of the Politically Correct among us.

    • Silas Barta says:

      But it’s illegal to discriminate against women, therefore that is totally impossible and everyone will comply.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Actually, the law permits people to choose not to shop in a store and not give their money to store owners because they’re discriminating against women.

        Discrimination is not only legal, but encouraged on a massive scale.

        We just happen to be living during an echo period after the 20th century wave of socialism, in which there are discriminatory laws against owners of capital, where the reasons for the discriminatory laws logically implicate consumer behavior, but in practice does not because of the anticapitalist discrimination.

        As a consumer, I can choose not to trade with anyone I want for the most absurd reasons. This is because even socialists need to eat. They can seek to absolish private ownership of capital, but they have to eat. Freedom for socialists means the freedom to do what socialists want. So, you can discriminate against capitaliats, and as a consumer you can be a racist, sexist, homophobe.

        And not only that, but you can prosthelytize about gender and racial equality in your anti-capitalistic crusade.

        Good times.

    • E. Harding says:

      Okay, now I’m all for it, too.

  4. GabbyD says:

    Dear Bob,

    a supporter of the policy (or any govt policy) would say that the a leave policy that firms take on voluntarily would hurt them competitively, so they would opt not to do it. So there is scope for policy that makes ALL firms do it. this type of argument is similar to “tragedy of the commons” argument.

    naturally, there would still be a cost, at the expense of other factors of production, but thats a separate issue from “women are hurt” because firms would be competitively disadvantaged from policy.

    • Tel says:

      Such an argument is implying that the benefits to the employee in terms of paid leave are greater than the benefits to the business in terms of attracting higher quality female employees (else the business would do it voluntarily). Or to put that another way, you are saying the women aren’t pulling their weight.

      The “tragedy of the commons” argument depends on some global unowned resource being depleted but what is that global resource? Babies? Who owns those babies?

    • Major_Freedom says:

      I always say let concumption be the final arbiter, not violence.

      If consumers value goods the production of which includes “the workers of this firm get 12 months (or whatever) of paid leave to raise babies”, then I see no reason why they cannot make such demands on employers of labor.

      The “brutal fact” that has heretofore been the case is that when given the choice, people in general just don’t value paid leave to raise babies. Since that is the case, there is no good reason to threaten employers with violence if they don’t offer what their consumers don’t even value.

      The real reason states have an interest in employers offering their workers paid leave to raise babies is to increase the number of people born who the state can exploit, via real taxes. This is what convinced states to allow some market based activities. It is so that more resources can be stolen. Let others produce according to their wants and needs, and then steal from and coerce them. More can be produced that way than straight up slavery.

      • GabbyD says:

        “The “brutal fact” that has heretofore been the case is that when given the choice, people in general just don’t value paid leave to raise babies”

        how do u know they dont value it?

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