Luring Women Into the Workforce with Lower Taxes
An article in Saturday's Star Tribune (http://www.startribune.com/535/story/1149212.html ) was about a new theory Alberto Alesina, an economics professor at Harvard, has come up with. He wants to lower income taxes for women. To even things out he wants to raise them for men. The idea behind this for him is that research has shown many women do not join the labor force because they are more sensitive to taxes than men are. This tax break would help out single women and families. It would be easier for women to be independent. Married men whose taxes increased would still get relief, because his wife's taxes would be lower. It might even lead to men spending more time at home with the kids.
This new tax theory seems like a type of affirmative action. Women are being "righted" for the past wrongs of keeping them out of the labor market. If there had not been past discrimination against women, this plan would not be fair. The idea does seem like it has good intentions, but I do not think it could actually work. I do not know what these studies are that show women remain unemployed because of income tax, but I have never heard this theory before. From class, it seems like women stay home because policies make it harder to get a job, advance in a career, be a working mother, and get equal pay. None of which are related to income tax.
Instead of lower income tax for women and raising it for men, a better policy would be to raise pay for women. Women only make about 75% of what men make, which is clearly not fair. If the policies that make it so hard for women to get equal treatment in the work force were changed, more women would probably work. From what we have talked about in class, the policy I think would be most effective would be one that quits punishing working women for having children. Getting a tax break does not help mothers out when they cannot find a job that will hire her and let her stay home with her young child. There is no clear answer for how to equalize the work force, but I do not think income taxes is it.