March 8, 2012

Women vs. The State: It’s Time to Liberate Ladies From Unequal and Unjust Government Policies

Veronique de Rugy

Senior Research Fellow
Summary

Women have come a long way. They have fought hard to win independence from their husbands and fathers. They have struggled against millennia of unequal treatment under the law. But their freedom is still constricted by misguided government policies. There are battles yet to be won. 

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The following are excerpts from Veronique de Rugy's article in the April 2012 edition of Reason

"March is Women’s History Month. As schoolteachers across America lecture students about how women fought for the right to own property, vote, and control their own bodies, another important lesson will be neglected: Women are still suffering from overly intrusive government. Improving the lot of American women means lowering marginal tax rates, abolishing many workplace regulations, increasing the number of low-skilled immigrants, and ending the drug war."

"If a woman makes less than her spouse (which is the case 72 percent of the time) and the couple files a joint tax return, the tax system often penalizes her decision to work rather than stay home. That’s because the government taxes the first dollar the wife earns at her husband’s highest marginal rate rather than the rate the wife’s salary warrants. This “marriage penalty” creates a disincentive for women to work, unless they are going to make as much as or more than their husbands. The higher the marginal tax rate, the bigger the penalty."

"Even regulations meant to protect women produce bad outcomes. Government mandates that force employers to approve lengthy maternity leaves make hiring women of childbearing age less appealing. As a result, women are more likely to be unemployed or to see their compensation reduced, whether they want to have children or not. Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Jonathan Gruber has shown that real wages for women in the 1990s in states that require comprehensive maternity expenses fell, compared to states that don’t."

Visit Reason to view the full article 

Photo Credit: Library of Congress