Not that long ago, a man, who is now the President of the United States said that being pregnant is inconvenient for the business and for the economy.
It might be a bit depressing to admit that this piece of writing was inspired by Donald Trump, but in a way it was.Thank you,Donald!
Unfortunately it is quite common to think that being pregnant is not beneficial for “the business”, or in the long run, for economy, which I’d like to prove otherwise.
Paid parental leave is an essential part of bringing up a child let alone all the other things that parents, especially mothers, may face after giving birth.
“It’s time we stop treating child care as a side issue or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is.”
And this is not only Obama’s point of view.
According to an article in New York Times, many economists believe that paid parental leave could actually give some boost to the economy.
If we think about it logically, if one has paid parental leave, they obviously take some time off: just to set the records straight, not for holidays, but to actually give life to a human being. If that is inconvenient for the economy, I can’t think of something else that is not.
Furthermore, it can also be assumed that the probability that one returns to the job she/he had before is higher with paid parental leave than without it.
As a conclusion, I think it is fair to say that it may not be super beneficial for the business but it’s certainly not a burden either.
Why is parental leave such a big deal economically, though? Specifically talking about the USA, because women now make up a larger percentage of the US workforce, 47% in 2012 and according to the latest statistics women’s share of the total labour force was 46.8% in 2016.
It is also proven that within 3 years after the child’s birth, “paid leave increases maternal employment by 15-20% as well as the total hours worked per week.” The same article also claims that “mothers who took leave were also 6% more likely to be working a year after childbirth”. And even if you have very basic knowledge on economics, you may as well figure that increased labour participation is usually a good thing.
There was another research in Europe a bit earlier, in 2013 that suggests something else: as it is shown on the chart above, Norway is one of those countries that provide enough time and money for paid maternity leave. Norway was one of the first countries to adopt paid parental leave in 1977 ( just for the record, all of the countries who adapted paid maternity leave in the 60’s were communist) and women receive 100% of their income paid by the government and are guaranteed a return to the same or similar work.
You may think that it’s one of those great things that could only work in the Scandinavian countries, but it’s actually not.
Even in Hungary, a country that constantly receives criticism for disrespecting and dismissing fundamental human rights, 3 months of paid maternity leave is provided by the government.
Now, back to Norway, in 2013, they extended maternity leave – and fortunately, it doesn’t look like they ever want to stop ever since and that raised some questions. As some economists argued 35 weeks is just too much : “Extra leave and other benefits amount to a pure leisure transfer”. The same research claims the following:
“Women don’t need extra months or a year off with pay to breastfeed and bond with baby.”
This study was released by National Bureau of Economic Research. As I was convinced that no women or mother would say the foregoing, I checked, and surprisingly enough, mostly men work at NBER. There was no further details on the distribution between men and women working on this research, though, but were all academics from all over the world.
In this post, I was attempting to bring attention to an issue that is usually not in the top priority list in the USA.
Undoubtedly, things are developing in a way. Even such a – seemingly – hopeless and dysfunctional administration like Trump’s show signs of interest in trying to make their system better.
In conclusion, no matter where certain opinions differ on this issue, there is a point where all these different viewpoints meet: it is quite obvious that without paid parental leave it can be extremely difficult for parents to get on with their lives – financially – while having a toddler.
Certain social benefits must be provided,not only in the US but all over the world. Not in despite of its not-very-likely-but-still-possible impact on economy, not because it’s a ‘feminist thing’ which was brought up again by another angry woman (without a child) moaning about how unfair a system is, which doesn’t even concern her yet.
Paid parental leave is important because there should be absolutely no dilemmas or obstacles set by any states in having to choose between having children or keeping one’s career.
- New York Times, Benefits of parental leave. [online] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/01/upshot/the-economic-benefits-of-paid-parental-leave.html [accessed 26th October 2017]
- Capital Startup, How paid maternity leave would befenit the US economy [online] Available at: https://www.capitolstartup.com/how-the-family-act-and-paid-maternity-leave-would-affect-the-us-economy/ [accessed 26th October 2017]
- Quartz, Extended maternity leave [online] Available at: https://qz.com/143780/the-economic-case-against-extended-maternity-leave/ [accessed 26th October 2017]
- OECD iLibrary, Labour market effect on parental leave [online] Available at: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/social-issues-migration-health/labour-market-effects-of-parental-leave-policies-in-oecd-countries_5k8xb6hw1wjf-en [accessed 26th October 2017]
- Independent, Donald Trump on pregnancy [online] Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/donald-trump-says-pregnancy-is-an-inconvenience-in-the-workplace-a7052286.html [Accessed 25th October 2017]
- [image 1-2] Available at https://www.buzzworthy.com/why-is-the-us-so-behind-regarding-maternity-leave-policy/ [Accessed 25th October 2017]
- Catalyst, Statistical overview on women workforce globally [online] Available at: http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/statistical-overview-women-workforce [Accessed 25th October,2017]
- Employees of National Bureau of Economic Research (for anyone else who is wondering about the exact numbers) [online] available at: http://www.nber.org/vitae.html [accessed 26th October,2017]
- Stanford Business, Business prospers with a paid family leave policy [online] Available at: https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/economists-take-why-parental-leave-matters [accessed 26th October, 2017]
By Lucy Geczi