Veronique de Rugy / Apr. 4, 2019

Government-Mandated, Paid Leave Programs Proven Ineffective

As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. This is a perfect way to describe the current effort by Democrats and some conservatives to implement a federal paid leave program. If the United States implements this policy, they believe Americans will not suffer the same negative consequences suffered in every country that has such a policy on its books.

Last year, the conservative American Enterprise Institute released a joint report with the more progressive Brookings Institution titled “Paid Family and Medical Leave: An Issue Whose Time Has Come.” While the authors disagree among themselves about the specifics of a federal program, they “unanimously agreed that some form of paid parental leave should be offered to help workers at the time of birth, adoption, or fostering of a child.”

These authors gathered for an AEI panel discussion on the issue this week to renew their commitment to a compromise solution that falls somewhere between big and bigger government policies. According to the original joint report, the plan “would provide eight weeks of gender-neutral paid parental leave, replace 70 percent of wages, and offer job protection. The policy would be fully funded by a combination of payroll taxes and savings elsewhere in the budget, with no increase in the deficit but also no adverse effects on low-income families,” according to the AEI website. Translation: more spending, more taxes and supposedly paid for by savings that will never materialize.

While said to be necessary to bring the United States into alignment with other industrialized countries — all of which have government-mandated paid leave — in reality, such a policy here would simply mimic a policy that has already backfired elsewhere, including four U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

A 2018 paper by Cato Institute analyst Vanessa Brown Calder reviews the literature on the impact of paid leave. She found that a government-provided solution to the issue won’t result in the proverbial free lunch for which supporters hope. Trade-offs for paid leave policies vary depending on policy specifics, but they include discrimination against workers of childbearing age and, as such, may favor older workers, resulting in fewer leadership roles, higher unemployment and lesser pay for women.

Paid leave advocates often argue that paid family leave and other social policies will reduce gender inequality in the workplace. Recent research on Denmark, however, suggests that this is hardly the case.

Denmark is often cited as an example of working-parent paradise. The government offers 52 weeks of paid leave and other generous family-friendly benefits. But even in paradise, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. A January 2018 National Bureau of Economic Research paper by economists Henrik Kleven, Camille Landais and Jakob Egholt Sogaard looks at what happened to the earnings of 470,000 Danish women who gave birth for the first time between 1985 and 2003. These researchers found that having children was a career bummer for women.

For instance, they found that while men’s and women’s pay grew at roughly the same rates before they had kids, mothers saw their earnings rapidly reduced by nearly 30% on average, compared to the trajectory they were on before having kids. Men, on the other hand, saw their pay grow at the same rate before and after their children were born. Women may also become less likely to work, and if still employed, had earned lower wages and worked fewer hours.

The absence of nationally-mandated paid leave in the United States doesn’t mean that American women don’t get paid leave, however. As Brown Calder writes, “Over the past 50 years, the private sector has substantially increased paid leave offerings; this suggests the private market responds to employee demands. At the same time, mothers’ labor-force engagement increased without government intervention.” Indeed, over the past several years, without the government mandating or paying for paid parental leave in the United States, somewhere between 45%-63% of workers reported they already had access to paid leave, according to Brown Calder’s analysis. That percentage is likely higher today.

While AEI and Brookings scholars continue to dream about a distortion-free paid leave policy, scholars more grounded in reality must resist the temptation to repeat the mistakes of the past — and of other countries — and still expect different results.

COPYRIGHT 2019 CREATORS.COM

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.