When will there be enough women in Congress? When there are 535
November 15, 2018 6:44 AM   Subscribe

Why Aren't U.S. Workers Working? - "Labor force participation among U.S. men and women ages 25 to 54 has been declining for nearly 20 years, a stark contrast with rising participation in Canada over this period. Three-fourths of the difference between the two countries can be explained by the growing gap in labor force attachment of women. A key factor is the extensive parental leave policies in Canada. If the United States could reverse the trend in participation of prime-age women to match Canada, it would see 5 million additional prime-age workers join the labor force."

Better Family Policies Could Draw Millions of Workers Into Labor Force, Research Shows - "The paper, which includes as an author the [Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's] newly installed president Mary Daly, sought to take stock of why U.S. labor-participation rates, which have been in decline for many years, have diverged notably from other big nations."

-Meanwhile, at University of Toronto Engineering

Women's oratory makes an impact at last - "After millennia of being silenced and excluded, they are speaking up — and going viral."
Michelle Obama’s speaking date in London’s Royal Festival Hall next month attracted 500 times as many ticket buyers as there were seats available. And quite right too: as the former speech writer Philip Collins has joked, Barack Obama is the second best orator in his own family. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have been about female sexual agency — but what has propelled them has been female oratory. In a way, that’s a bigger shift. Easy to forget how deeply unusual this is.

Women are almost entirely absent from the history of rhetoric... Not only have women, historically, seldom been in positions to make a public speech (because they haven’t until very recently been politicians, lawyers or business leaders), what they said has seldom been written down. The version we have of Elizabeth’s speech at Tilbury isn’t a contemporary or verbatim record.

Mary Beard’s fine recent book Women & Power: A Manifesto makes clear that the exclusion of women’s voices from public spaces — silencing, as it is sometimes called — is a very long tradition and it is more than an institutional accident. She reminds us that western literature’s “first recorded example of a man telling a woman to ‘shut up’; telling her that her voice was not to be heard in public” comes in the Odyssey, 3,000-odd years ago. Early in the poem, Odysseus’s wife Penelope comes downstairs to find a bard singing to her suitors, and she asks him to change his tune. At once her son Telemachus interrupts her: “Mother, go back up into your quarters, and take up your own work, the loom and the distaff . . . speech will be the business of men.” And so it has been for most of the three millennia since.
Erin Loos Cutraro Is Building the Bench of Women Candidates - "The founder of the nonprofit She Should Run wants to make sure the midterm elections were just the beginning."

-The number of women in the House—at least 102 in 2019, up from 84—remains less than a quarter of the chamber's 435 members

Women Enjoy Political Gains, but Advocates Want More - "New Congress will have a record number of women and political donations by women have hit new highs."

This Researcher Studied 400,000 Knitters and Discovered What Turns a Hobby Into a Business - "To better understand what transforms pattern users into pattern sellers, Kim reviewed 99 interviews with knitters on a niche newsletter and three blogs. The most common answer, by far, was that they'd been encouraged by people they knew, such as husbands and friends. Many had already been modifying patterns and designing their own yarn gnomes and cat costumes, but until they heard from others, they lacked the confidence to step out on their own."
posted by kliuless (74 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
Interesting bit from the first article about how Canada has kept a lot more high-school-educated workers employed than the U.S. has. I wonder which jobs are still available to high school graduates in Canada that aren't available to them in the U.S.
posted by clawsoon at 7:28 AM on November 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Labor is an expense. Expenses come at the cost of profits. Lower profits means unhappy shareholders. Therefore, to make shareholders happy, companies should have as few employees as possible.
posted by SansPoint at 7:32 AM on November 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


Wouldn’t attracting more into the labor force further reduce wages?
posted by vorpal bunny at 7:35 AM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


But rising labor force participation should drive down the acquisition cost of that sweet sweet labor! In summary, labor macroeconomics is a land of contrasts.
posted by turbowombat at 7:37 AM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


clawsoon: Post-secondary education works significantly differently in Canada from how it does in the US. Many people are attending what we call college here, which is practical programs, everything from say, welding to film writing, whereas university here is humanities, social sciences, sciences. Huge numbers of people with post-secondary education here do not have a bachelor's. Seems like they are comparing apples to a fruit bowl.
posted by wellred at 7:38 AM on November 15, 2018 [12 favorites]


The board of these companies doesn't give a fuck about macroeconomics. They care about growth next quarter, and figuring out how much of this quarter's profits to use on stock buybacks.
posted by DigDoug at 7:39 AM on November 15, 2018 [12 favorites]


But rising labor force participation should drive down the acquisition cost of that sweet sweet labor! In summary, labor macroeconomics is a land of contrasts.

Also, more labor participation means more money in consumers hands. Which they will spend. Which allows production and/or prices to rise.
posted by Mogur at 7:41 AM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


The framing on this is bizarre. Labor participation as a whole has very little to do with individual reasons for why a single person isn't participating. The job market is saturated, we're nearly at "full" employment, in that all the jobs that are available have been filled. Nearly everyone I know is either working as much as they can to survive, or in a 'normal' office kind of job. This myth of people "just not wanting to work" is bizarre.
posted by odinsdream at 7:52 AM on November 15, 2018 [13 favorites]


Huge numbers of people with post-secondary education here do not have a bachelor's. Seems like they are comparing apples to a fruit bowl.

More detailed Canadian stats. Looking at the footnotes, Canadians with any kind of postsecondary certificate - vocational school, apprenticeship, community college - have a ~90% participation rate. People with a high school diploma have an ~80% participation rate.

It seems unlikely to me that the OECD would make as simple a mistake as you're suggesting, though it's always possible.
posted by clawsoon at 7:54 AM on November 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


This myth of people "just not wanting to work" is bizarre.

So much. And it's disingenuous not to include unpaid domestic work as "work," because people are certainly not sitting around eating bonbons all day.
posted by witchen at 7:54 AM on November 15, 2018 [17 favorites]


I doubt that corporate executives in Canada are significantly less interested in profits than executives in the US. If there is better behavior from Canadian companies, it is the result of regulation. (Since in the absence of regulations, we have ample evidence that Canadian companies can be just as rapacious as any south of the 49th parallel. See: the entire province of Alberta, tar sands, uranium mining, etc.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:56 AM on November 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


I wonder if you'd see anything interesting if you broke the numbers down by religious affiliation and religiosity. Fundamentalism seems like a more significant movement in the U.S. than Canada, and fundamentalists often seem to want women out of the workforce, out of politics, and with limited education. Stay home, have babies, do domestic work in your own home (and at church). This is not universally true, I'm sure, but it does seem to be a tendency. From that perspective, limited family leave policies are not a mistake but an incentive, a way to push people into male-breadwinner family structures.

This is only a hypothesis. It would be interesting to know whether the numbers support it.
posted by clawsoon at 8:07 AM on November 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


However you look at it, Canada vs. US isn't a good comparison, with 10% of the population size and completely different education systems. I don't think they made a mistake, I don't think they are counting people without degrees, since that is what they wrote in the article.
posted by wellred at 8:11 AM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


The job market is saturated, we're nearly at "full" employment, in that all the jobs that are available have been filled. Nearly everyone I know is either working as much as they can to survive, or in a 'normal' office kind of job. This myth of people "just not wanting to work" is bizarre.

Note, labour force participation is defined somewhat unintuitively, as "working or actively looking for work." So the "why aren't people working" sentiment isn't referring to people who are unemployed and trying to find a job, just the ones who aren't looking for whatever reason (many of whom seem to be women, particularly in the US, so it's reasonable to look at what might be influencing US women in particular to stop looking for work).
posted by randomnity at 8:22 AM on November 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


because people are certainly not sitting around eating bonbons all day

"Speak for yourself, dirty peasant!" /cleans monocle with silk handkerchief
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 8:25 AM on November 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


Also I'm curious whether you'd see a similar difference if you looked within Canada and compared Quebec to the rest of Canada, as Quebec has even more friendly parental policies than the rest of Canada (heavily subsidized daycare, plus 5 weeks paternity leave in addition to the parental leave that can be taken by either parent, plus the birthing parent-specific maternity leave). The article did mention that subsidized childcare didn't seem to have a huge effect, surprisingly.
posted by randomnity at 8:30 AM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


>> This myth of people "just not wanting to work" is bizarre.

> So much. And it's disingenuous not to include unpaid domestic work as "work," because people are certainly not sitting around eating bonbons all day.


I don’t want to work.

Like, okay, this is not what the article is about, but it gets me angry in the blood when people pretend like working for pay is an inherently worthwhile thing. It’s not. It’s some garbage. It’s ruining most of our lives in one way or another: either we have to work for pay in order to get food and shelter, and so we waste the best hours of our days, the best years of our lives, and the whole world’s carbon budget doing worthless shit for people who don’t deserve our obedience, or else we have to work for pay but the shits with capital don’t want our work, at which point we starve to death in the cold.

And then we wind up conflating worthwhile things, like housekeeping and childraising and aging parent care, with worthless things like work, pretending that these good things that we don’t get paid for are in some way commensurable with the trash we have to do for money.

If you think you want to work for pay, if you think that if you were free that’s what you’d freely choose to do with your life, then you may want to consider what factors in your environment gave you that ridiculous idea. And if you think that everyone wants to work for pay, then listen, sibling, you’ve got a severe case of false consciousness. And that sort of thing can metastasize into full-blown terminal bootlicking if you let it.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 9:00 AM on November 15, 2018 [157 favorites]


Oh definitely I'm on the same page with you.
posted by odinsdream at 9:02 AM on November 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Labor is an expense. Expenses come at the cost of profits. Lower profits means unhappy shareholders. Therefore, to make shareholders happy, companies should have as few employees as possible.

It always amazes me in our society, how companies are doing oh-so-awesome when they cut costs, and yet at the exact same time we say to people who can't find jobs, "you're welfare scum."
posted by Melismata at 9:06 AM on November 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


A nice profile of Mary Daly: She Dropped Out of High School. Now She’s President of the San Francisco Fed, and an interview, where she explains her trajectory from being a 15-year old high-school dropout living with friends to the world of elite economic policymaking.

But don't assume that just because she's a female, gay, high-school dropout who's active on diversity issues that you'd agree with her on everything: For example, she coauthored a book that recommended that we make "work, rather than benefits, the primary goal of federal disability policy" and that advocated what one advocate criticized as "radical changes" to the Supplemental Security Income program.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 9:24 AM on November 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


Well, anecdata and all that, but of the folks I know who are of working age and have children and are not working -- basically 100% of them aren't working because it's not economically feasible to do so.

...the money they are being offered is less than the cost of replacing their home labor with professionals, so they continue to work at home instead.

Daycare, for some of them, would be $2000/month [not joking]. Then add in the cost of someone to pick up the kids and do "aftercare" (that 2K daycare terminates at 5pm) plus a cleaning service, and *poof* they're not making any extra money by working but their lives are substantially more harried.

Won't change much when their kids hit school age either, since programs terminate at like 3pm. So then they still need "aftercare".

And supposed professional analysts and politicians are surprised that they're not falling all over themselves to go work at a fucking Target for minimum wage? Really? How stupid do you have to be?

(side-remark, the stay-at-home father I know catches endless shit from basically every direction. Household labor is utterly undervalued, and the thing that really surprised me is the extent to which historically undervalued people [women] in equally undervalued roles [caregivers] are prepared to make fun of someone else doing undervalued labor. I mean, jesus, teachers make fun of him for not having a "real job"; the lady at the daycare clearly pities him for not being employed. WHAT?)
posted by aramaic at 9:24 AM on November 15, 2018 [34 favorites]


randomnity: Also I'm curious whether you'd see a similar difference if you looked within Canada and compared Quebec to the rest of Canada, as Quebec has even more friendly parental policies than the rest of Canada

Good call. Province-by-province labour statistics, females 25-64. Most of Canada is at 82-84% labour force participation in this group, while Quebec is at 87-88%.
posted by clawsoon at 9:29 AM on November 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


And supposed professional analysts and politicians are surprised that they're not falling all over themselves to go work at a fucking Target for minimum wage? Really? How stupid do you have to be?

This is a huge, huge factor. If you can live frugally, and you value your time more than the $8 hourly rate you'd be making at Target, why on earth would you take that job?? If I'm going to be barely subsisting anyway, I'd much rather do it on my own terms, eating beans and rice at home, where at least I don't have to wear a damn polo shirt and khakis (or whatever other godawful uniform it would be) or ask permission to take a bathroom break.
posted by witchen at 9:30 AM on November 15, 2018 [27 favorites]


it gets me angry in the blood when people pretend like working for pay is an inherently worthwhile thing. It’s not. It’s some garbage. It’s ruining most of our lives in one way or another: either we have to work for pay in order to get food and shelter, and so we waste the best hours of our days, the best years of our lives, and the whole world’s carbon budget doing worthless shit for people who don’t deserve our obedience

Next time you hear about record productivity numbers just note that all that productivity in profits seems to be sucked up and deposited as cash in a far away bank account doing nothing. And in the U.S. we continue to support these endeavors, incentivize them, in fact. Human capital wasted.
posted by amanda at 9:31 AM on November 15, 2018 [20 favorites]


Another interesting bit from the province-by-province data: PEI's labour force participation rate for females 25-64 jumped from 83% to 88% between October 2017 and October 2018. In December 2017, in between those two points, 18 month parental leave kicked in.

This could obviously be a random coincidence, and it seems like an awfully quick effect if it's a real correlation, but it does fit the pattern.
posted by clawsoon at 9:44 AM on November 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


> Next time you hear about record productivity numbers just note that all that productivity in profits seems to be sucked up and deposited as cash in a far away bank account doing nothing.

Productivity is a measure of rate of exploitation. It’s the gap between what we can charge for our labor time and what the capitalists can charge for the products of that labor.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 9:52 AM on November 15, 2018 [12 favorites]


You can measure productivity by hours worked or by wages paid. The first one is good; the second one sucks.
posted by clawsoon at 9:54 AM on November 15, 2018


Good call. Province-by-province labour statistics, females 25-64. Most of Canada is at 82-84% labour force participation in this group, while Quebec is at 87-88%.

In the article, they specifically call out these "However, research on whether such policies have affected the labor participation decisions of mothers has found little evidence of their effectiveness. Rather, new plans simply replace existing childcare arrangements (Havnes and Mogstad 2011). Cascio and Schanzenbach (2013), for instance, found that universal preschool programs offered in Georgia and Oklahoma since the 1990s had little impact on the likelihood of mothers working. "

They waffle by saying "new plans replace existing childcare arrangements" which I don't know what that really means - and compare Georgie and Oklahoma plans - but those kick in at 4 years of age, which of course leaves a 4 year gap, and they have school hours which do not align to work hours. But then " allowed research to track the positive effects of parental leave on mothers’ labor force participation rates " I thought they just said that they had little evidence of these programs working? That "What could account for the difference in behavior?" section is a mess. Parental leave maxes out at 1.5 years. So I doubt that explains the whole difference.

Seems like they did the bare minimum of research to get this out.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:16 AM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Productivity is a measure of rate of exploitation.

No, at least using the standard definition of the term.

A mini-econ lesson: In general, productivity refers to the amount of output that can be made with a given amount of input. When properly measured, higher productivity is better.

There are two main measures of productivity: Labor productivity is the amount of output per hour of work. But labor productivity depends on capital too. You can dig more holes in an hour with a shovel than with your hands, but first you'd need a shovel.

Multifactor productivity (MFP), also known as total factor productivity (TFP), accounts for both labor (worker) and capital (stuff, such as machinery) input.

All else equal, higher MFP is the basis of improved living standards. Because of increases in TFP we get to live in houses with plumbing and electricity and eat enough food rather than shiver and half-starve in huts. Plus TV and internet.

None of the above says anything about the distribution of the output. In recent decades, there has been increasing inequality for two reasons: More output goes to the people who own capital, and of the portion that goes to labor, a larger share has been going to higher-income workers, though there is debate about the size of that increase.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:34 AM on November 15, 2018 [12 favorites]


The_Vegetables: In the quote in your first paragraph, "such policies" is referring to daycare subsidization specifically, whereas "positive effects of parental leave" is referring to parental leave policies. They might have similar effects in some cases but are very much not the same thing.

So, daycare subsidies may not have a real effect on returning to the workforce (not sure I actually believe that, would have to check out the original studies) but parental leave policies show many correlations that support their argument. Tricky to directly study cause and effect with these things but their argument is logical and supported by the (albeit limited) evidence that I've seen so far.
posted by randomnity at 10:34 AM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Every time an article or piece of research asks any question about why workers do what they do, the first answer to be considered should be "coz money, duh!"

That's the basic interaction here - do work or not, therefore get paid or not.

This article didn't address that question, therefore it's not worth shit.

Ok, I can believe that family policies will effect the proportion of women who are in the labour force, but the last thirty years have seen flat or declining real income for everyone below the median income. Hence there are going to be many people who would be working if work actually paid in real terms what their parents were paid.
posted by happyinmotion at 10:39 AM on November 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


I would also like to point out that I looked up the study they referenced to support their "daycare subsidies don't affect labour participation" statement and it is a study of how changes to child care subsidies in Norway affected women returning to the workforce. So I would be very hesitant to conclude, as the authors did, that daycare subsidies also do nothing in places that are quite culturally different than Norway - like places with limited maternity leave for an obvious example. Perhaps other studies exist that they didn't reference, I don't know.
posted by randomnity at 10:42 AM on November 15, 2018


Sorry I suck at reading, there was also a US study referenced.
posted by randomnity at 10:45 AM on November 15, 2018


but parental leave policies show many correlations that support their argument.
Yeah, I understand they are different and that's why I pointed out that parental leave through work seems to max out at 1.5 years. I don't see that they answered what happens after 1.5 years to explain 6-8 points worth of difference.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:56 AM on November 15, 2018


Where we live daycare cost is around the $2k cited above. That means that if one parent is employed with health care, the other would have to make around $50k (once you factor in taxes and various work expenses) just to cover the childcare. At which point, if your job makes more than that, you need to decide what the marginal value of actually seeing your child for times other than drop-off, pick-up, dinner and bed is. Is basically never seeing them except for chores, weekends, and vacations worth $10K (ie, you'd have to make $60K a year), or $20K ($70K a year), or what? Or is there even a price on it? The main reasons dropping out of the labor forces doesn't make sense is (1) it burdens the other parent with missing the child (and if they don't mind that, they've already been brainwashed) and (2) it is of course almost impossible to rejoin your career after 5 years or whatever, so now you have to consider the tradeoff between playing with you child and the entire remainder of your career. Virtually everyone we know with children has (a) parents who both work with full-time daycare that basically consumes an entire salary and (b) parents who desperately hate that situation but for whom a few months or even a year of leave would not solve the fundamental problem, that full-time work and family are basically incompatible.
posted by chortly at 11:15 AM on November 15, 2018 [19 favorites]


I don't see that they answered what happens after 1.5 years to explain 6-8 points worth of difference.

As well as parental leave and subsidized daycare, does the US have widely available pre-kindergarten? Public, fully-funded education for the year before kindergarten? It's increasingly universal in Canada (and we just call it junior and senior kindergarten now). Most of Canada has access to it now. It's also been found to significantly increase workforce participation rates, as well as improve child out comes and even significantly help reduce income gaps.

To make it clear: Mom gets leave for up to 7-8months, mom and dad can split remaining leave up to a year. There's a hole in may provinces between 1 yr and 4 yrs of age, in most provinces which gets filled with private childcare. Jr. Kindergarten kicks in at 4 years old (though half-day in the first year) and at that point they're in school. There's much discussion about what to do about that hole currently in many provinces, though Quebec has it figured out.

Child care is so important. I've just had this week one of my best people go off for her first child, and we're certainly keeping her place for her. She has options with regard to her and her daughter-to-be's health, he time with her new family and the supports she can expect for her family. We we to function under the rules of even ten years ago, the choices would be much harder for her and her family.
posted by bonehead at 11:26 AM on November 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Two things need to happen:
1) Middle class wages have to get back up to 70s and 80s levels when adjusted for inflation.
2) Men have to feel ok about leaving the workforce or working part time, and society has to feel ok about that to.
Then, economic feminism will have won. I really feel like that's the other shoe that was supposed to drop after women entered the workforce. It's about time.

We don't need more jobs. We need a higher wages for everyone from the 90% down.
posted by es_de_bah at 11:47 AM on November 15, 2018 [13 favorites]


I liked working full-time with full-time daycare; I like, but not as much, working full-time with a "normal" school schedule that assumes women stay at home augmented with a bunch of precariously cobbled-together stopgaps. I guess I'm brainwashed?
posted by Ralston McTodd at 11:55 AM on November 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


The board of these companies doesn't give a fuck about macroeconomics.

The aggregate effect of their not-giving-a-fuck is, in part, what macroeconomists study.
posted by klanawa at 11:58 AM on November 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


The problem is that corporations are optimized, often times BY LAW, to prioritize shareholder profits over everything. As long as each quarter over quarter they can point to enough growth by hook, by crook, or by M&A, to keep the number at the bottom of the report higher than the previous year's report, the stock price goes up, and the shareholders are pleased. The system is not set up for corporate boards to give a fuck about anything but their profits and returns for their shareholders.
posted by SansPoint at 12:07 PM on November 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


it burdens the other parent with missing the child (and if they don't mind that, they've already been brainwashed)

You would have to pay me a WHOLE LOT more than my current salary for me to be at home all day with little purr. I love them to death, but a weekend with them exhausts me in a way that no job ever has. They also learn and get way more social interactions than I could provide. Can you tell I'm an introvert? We pay US 2k/mo for pre-k daycare, and it is money well spent for my peace of (non-brainwashed) mind.

Also, assuming that "every parent wants to be home with their kid instead of working" ends up socially defaulting to "every MOM wants to be home with their child instead of working", because women are paid less than their male counterparts.

Now, I am looking for a closer job to shorten my commute, and we'll probably go to early & late shift schedules so little purr doesn't need to too much aftercare, but I think child care is worth spending most of my salary on it. I also wouldn't mind if the work week was shortened for everyone, but that would mean we could enjoy more things as a family.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 12:26 PM on November 15, 2018 [23 favorites]


Also, I think as a society we should pay for universal childcare and prek schooling so that anyone who wants/needs to work can without bankrupting themselves, and it would help with kids in generally undeserved areas. Head Start is supposed to do it, but we underfund it, as usual.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 12:28 PM on November 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


I would venture that another reason why moms in the US don't work is that after returning from maternity leave, they are diplomatically told that their choices are incompatible with the company and they may stay until the next performance review. After throwing them a baby shower. On the same month they are celebrated as a top performer on a state level.
posted by ersatz at 12:41 PM on November 15, 2018 [13 favorites]


Good luck finding day care if you have a kid with special needs. That's a group that needs to be considered in any discussion of child care.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:21 PM on November 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


Yeah I don't think I could be a SAHP. I enjoy weekends but am usually excited to sit at my desk and drink my coffee come Monday. I find my work stimulating and interesting. I don't think I'm brainwashed.
posted by peacheater at 1:29 PM on November 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


> Yeah I don't think I could be a SAHP

Oh, but it's great when they're older and head off to school, so long as you can figure out the economic piece. You get to sit on your sofa instead of at a desk, and find hobbies and other activities that are stimulating and interesting. Nice work, if you can get it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:44 PM on November 15, 2018


Fundamentalism seems like a more significant movement in the U.S. than Canada, and fundamentalists often seem to want women out of the workforce, out of politics, and with limited education. Stay home, have babies, do domestic work in your own home (and at church).

Environics has been studying the difference in values between Canada and the US for 25 years. The dramatic rise of “father knows best” authoritarianism in the US was contrasted against Canada’s overt feminism.
posted by saucysault at 3:07 PM on November 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Thanks for the links, saucysault. I wonder if those trends are holding up in the age of Twitter and Trump.
posted by clawsoon at 3:17 PM on November 15, 2018


.of the folks I know who are of working age and have children and are not working -- basically 100% of them aren't working because it's not economically feasible to do so.

...the money they are being offered is less than the cost of replacing their home labor with professionals, so they continue to work at home instead.


...for no money, leaving them with no way to pay rent on the home in which they work or for food to feed the child they cannot afford to hire care for, which presumably goes into foster care when their mother ends up homeless due to having no income and thus, once her savings run out, no money.

or no, wait, are all these people you know who have children but no outside employment, the ones who aren't lucky enough to live in a functioning welfare state that provides for their and their children's needs, are they all partnered with spouses who pay for all these things -- food, rent, clothing for the family, and so on -- out of their salaries? that would change things.

If that -- husbands, mostly -- is the explanation for how all these women and one man you know miraculously manage to afford a home in which to labor for free, why do you talk about the cost of replacing home labor with professionals as if paying for it is a one-parent expense, as if these very same spouses could not and would not pay for any of it?
posted by queenofbithynia at 3:18 PM on November 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


Economics is weird.
posted by aramaic at 3:31 PM on November 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


From saucysault's video link: The biggest difference between Canadian and American values is that Canadians are much less likely to believe, "Father of family must be master in his own house."

Having a wife who is forced to be economically dependent on you is an easy way to achieve that.
posted by clawsoon at 3:35 PM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


And if you think that everyone wants to work for pay, then listen, sibling, you’ve got a severe case of false consciousness

Yeah, this. Working for pay for many people is necessary, but it’s backbreaking, exploitive, and awful at the lower ends. People are leaving the workforce because they would rather do just about anything else rather than be subservient to petty tyrants.
posted by corb at 4:19 PM on November 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


2018 update on Canadian and American attitudes:
Our most conservative province, Alberta, is much less patriarchal than the most egalitarian region of the United States, New England. American women are 2½ times as likely as Canadian women (40 versus 16 per cent) to believe father must be master.
posted by clawsoon at 4:27 PM on November 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


> A mini-econ lesson: In general, productivity refers to the amount of output that can be made with a given amount of input. When properly measured, higher productivity is better.

There are two main measures of productivity: Labor productivity is the amount of output per hour of work. But labor productivity depends on capital too. You can dig more holes in an hour with a shovel than with your hands, but first you'd need a shovel.

Multifactor productivity (MFP), also known as total factor productivity (TFP), accounts for both labor (worker) and capital (stuff, such as machinery) input.[...]

None of the above says anything about the distribution of the output. In recent decades, there has been increasing inequality for two reasons: More output goes to the people who own capital, and of the portion that goes to labor, a larger share has been going to higher-income workers, though there is debate about the size of that increase.


[emphasis added]

It depends on tools. Tools and masses of capital are not the same thing, no matter how much the economic abstractions developed by capitalism-friendly economists may pretend they're the same thing.

You've performed a funny sleight of hand in these two paragraphs. First, you've normalized the practice of assigning ownership of productive capital to people other than the laborers. This is precisely the practice that results in us being forced to waste the best hours of our day, the best years of our lives, and the carbon budget of the world lest we starve. Second, you've focused attention on the distribution of ownership of the output of production, rather than on the distribution of ownership of the inputs of production. This is a straightforwardly consumerist view, which is a distraction in an analysis that focuses on production (i.e., work) rather than consumption.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 5:01 PM on November 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


I think parental leave is a big part of it. But I also think it’s an increasing cultural divide between the countries. I totally think families who can afford a SAHP rock, but I don’t inherently believe that children in Canada, anyway, need that. Our daycares are just as expensive in many areas, but they are generally well-regulated. Here in Ontario we have full-time kindergarten (jk and sk).

More to the point, I don’t see parenting as inherently trying to make sure my child’s potential is /maximized/. I see it as needing to be /nurtured/. The parents, let’s face it, moms, I know in the US are under so much pressure to stay home and make sure their kids are getting meticulously prepared. And once they’re home, all these expectations develop. Room parents and weekly parent lunchroom visits and parties. Toronto schools promote parent engagement but you won’t generally find the halls full of parent volunteers delivering education or setting up classroom activities...that’s the job of the school...so you’re not a bad parent if you’re at work.

And I guess where you have to get into the right university and it’s very winner-take-all it makes sense to try to squeeze every drop of educational potential individually rather than trusting an after-school program to enrich the day. I am okay with a “really pretty good” education and working rather than staying home to oversee an excellent education. But it would be risky in the US, maybe. And it may go that way here too.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:38 PM on November 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


If you think you want to work for pay, if you think that if you were free that’s what you’d freely choose to do with your life, then you may want to consider what factors in your environment gave you that ridiculous idea.

Okay, in my case the "factor" is a (much-adored) toddler. I'd rather spend a big part of my week getting to live in the adult world and think about things more stimulating and less exhausting than an endless stream of diapers, Cheerios, blocks, and child safety Whack-a-Mole. But thanks for being yet another voice claiming that full-time childcare is a Higher Calling.
posted by the_blizz at 5:46 PM on November 15, 2018 [14 favorites]


I'm happy that we added full-time JK in Ontario. It isn't just that it is one less year of day-care that parents have to pay for. Even though it isn't mandatory everyone is expected to send their kids to JK which means that parents (mothers) can get back to work/study one year earlier without feeling guilt for doing so, or at least feeling less guilt. Our son turned 4 over the summer and started JK in September. Last year in anticipation of this my wife applied to go to grad school, got in and she started school this September as well. She could have done this one or two years ago but the pull to stay home was too strong. Ideally we would add free full-time universal early-years care as well so that it would be even easier for mothers to get on with their careers/studies but we'd likely need an election for that to happen.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 7:33 PM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


SansPoint: "The system is not set up for corporate boards to give a fuck about anything but their profits [...]"

Which is fine really, just tax the crap out of that profit. Tying family leave to a job is foolish and introduces all sorts of negative consequences. Basic parental leave in Canada is paid via our employment insurance system which is funded by employers and employees. Employers aren't penalized when an employee receives payments and the payments are administered by the government so continue even if your employer goes out of business (and the payments are the same for everyone based on qualifying wages).

Plus there is some money paid to everyone (well a complicated sliding scale for families making up to $150,000 a year) for every child. Not a lot; I think we get ~$200/mo for one child. But that money is tax free and there are tax credits for children as well.
posted by Mitheral at 7:37 PM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Well, it is better when corporations take the needs of all their stakeholders into account, which despite the plaintive mewlings of Chicago school cult members, isn't actually against the law. Corporate boards/officers have much leeway, assuming activist shareholders (aka raiders) don't stage a revolt. That's not a reflection of legal responsibilities, however.

That said, taxing the crap out of them is certainly a better alternative to our (mainly the US, but much of the west to some degree) current situation.
posted by wierdo at 7:58 PM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


As well as parental leave and subsidized daycare, does the US have widely available pre-kindergarten? Public, fully-funded education for the year before kindergarten? It's increasingly universal in Canada (and we just call it junior and senior kindergarten now). Most of Canada has access to it now.

Isn't public school Junior Kindergarten/prématernelle still predominantly an Ontario thing? I know it exists in some QC and NWT schools now, but I was surprised to learn recently that Kindergarten is still just one year in most of Canada.
posted by blerghamot at 9:28 PM on November 15, 2018


does the US have widely available pre-kindergarten? Public, fully-funded education for the year before kindergarten?

No. However, NYC does ("Pre-K for All"). There's a lot of shit to be talked about DeBlasio, but that has been a real accomplishment of his administration.
posted by praemunire at 11:44 PM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Addressing the workforce participation articles: Are there any comprehensive studies of parental leave state by state? Are any states addressing the growing number of “non-employees” in the labor force? Those workers (readers: I am one) are likely not covered by employer-funded leave programs.
As a self-employed person, I have put off trying for kids due to the lack of societal support for working moms. I read knaursgaard’s “my struggle” and was blown away by the level of support for working families provided by the state in Sweden. State-run affordable daycare, flexible jobs, maternal and parental leave (which all are pressured to take)? Yes please!
posted by natasha_k at 7:11 AM on November 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Isn't public school Junior Kindergarten/prématernelle still predominantly an Ontario thing?

Huh, I had no idea. Wikipedia says you're right.

JK/SK has been the structure in Ontario forever as far as I know. It's not pre-kindergarten, it's two years of kindergarten. I assumed it was the same everywhere. Then I learned they don't do JK/SK in the US but I thought it was just two years of kindergarten (cause that's normal) and both years were called the same thing, since they're basically the same thing. But nope...only one year of kindergarten in the U.S.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:20 AM on November 16, 2018


Toronto schools promote parent engagement but you won’t generally find the halls full of parent volunteers delivering education or setting up classroom activities...that’s the job of the school...so you’re not a bad parent if you’re at work.

The school my kids goes to has a 20-1 teacher/student ratio, but there are only 2 paid teachers' aides for 5 grades and about 450 students. Stay at home volunteer mothers, fathers, and grandmothers (no grandfathers) are educating children at their school.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:36 AM on November 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


The school my kids goes to has a 20-1 teacher/student ratio, but there are only 2 paid teachers' aides for 5 grades and about 450 students. Stay at home volunteer mothers, fathers, and grandmothers (no grandfathers) are educating children at their school.

My kids' school isn't overrun with aides either but at a 20:1 ratio the kids seem to be doing fine, right up through grade 8 where my older son is. My school doesn't really bring parents in to do instruction for a wide variety of reasons, which I support.

It might depend on your area and your school population, but at mine, despite it being a pretty tiny school, there's learning and reading centre support and the aides are in the particular classrooms where they are needed. I mean what's your expectation here?
posted by warriorqueen at 10:21 AM on November 16, 2018


The article talked about pime-age workers, and ignored workers over 54, because I guess we don't matter. Older workers bring a different set of skills, not always the skills you expect. I'm tired of the expectation that, as a white-haired woman, I could not possibly be technically literate, to say nothing of expert. The job market is so hostile to older women that it's no surprise we don't want shitty jobs at shitty pay.

Want workers? Hire with equality and pay better.
posted by theora55 at 10:50 AM on November 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


The article talked about pime-age workers, and ignored workers over 54, because I guess we don't matter.

Really, don't take it personally! These are researchers, not employers, and they focus on "prime-age" workers because some people in their mid-to-late 50's retire. So, for example, if the share of people aged 57 who are in the labor force changes (either increasing or decreasing), it's hard to know whether that's because they are choosing to retire earlier or later, whether there's a change in discrimination by employers, change in health among that group, etc. But many of the same scholars are researching ways to encourage work by older workers, including ways to reduce discrimination against older workers.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:52 PM on November 16, 2018 [3 favorites]




On the subject of work being worthless:

I don't want to make unpaid homekeeping my primary calling. I did that and childcare full time at different jaunts, and capitalism, as relentlessly structured as possible, seem the most compatible with good mental health for me.

I do not wish for injustice, but I like money. I like my job, which is moving money to places it can go to help people (I am a bureaucrat in a beige cubicle).

As much as we talk about the value of Canadian planning and programs, we trust in the value of money in some ways more than the US- for example paying out welfare in currency, not food stamps.

Money has been freedom from abuse and control over my own destiny.
posted by Phalene at 11:57 PM on November 16, 2018 [4 favorites]




Woman power from Ghana to Iceland - "The Women Leaders Global Forum in Reykjavik brings together extraordinary women from around the world. A new index shows there's still much work to be done when it comes to the perception of women in leadership posts."

Women talk AI and gender equality in Iceland - "This week, more than 500 female leaders from around the world are meeting in Reykjavik for the Women Leaders Global Forum to discuss how to get more women into leadership positions."

Gender equality: 'Battle for fundamental human rights' - "Iceland is often held up as the poster child of gender equality, but as Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir told DW ahead of the 2018 Women Leaders Global Forum, even her country has to keep fighting."
posted by kliuless at 5:59 AM on November 28, 2018


Newly Elected Democratic Governors and Legislatures Should Enact These Labor Initiatives Right Away
First, states should raise and enforce basic labor standards. This can be done by increasing the minimum wage, expanding overtime protection, or passing paid family or paid sick leave laws. Many states have already walked this path: 11 states and the District of Columbia have passed paid sick leave laws, and 18 states had higher minimum wages take effect in 2018. Meanwhile, states like Pennsylvania and Washington are currently in the process of revising their overtime rules to cover more people. These standard-raising measures are wildly popular with the public and with voters; a survey last month found that 84 percent of voters support a comprehensive national paid family and medical leave policy, and ballot measures on raising the minimum wage were overwhelmingly approved in a pair of deep-red states, Arkansas and Missouri. States that have already taken the above measures can go further, incorporating new labor standards about fair scheduling or eliminating the lower minimum wage sometimes applicable to tipped workers.
posted by kliuless at 6:09 AM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Preschool works - "[The] availability of pre-K programs improves developmental outcomes and causes persistent reductions in grade repetition."
posted by kliuless at 5:36 AM on December 5, 2018




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