The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook shows the cost of having no federal paid leave programme Democracy in America
Apr 13th 2018
by M.S.R. | WASHINGTON, DC
IN 1986, “American Women in Transition”, a study by the Russell Sage Foundation, described the vast changes then afoot in American society. Some twenty years previously, it says, in what sometimes reads as old-fashioned language, few mothers had jobs; by the early 1980s “three fifths of wives with school-age children were working outside the home”. This extraordinary change was reflected in the popular culture of the 1980s, from movies like “Working Girl” and “9 to 5” to books like Helen Gurley Brown’s “Having it all”.
Back then, America led most of the rich world in terms of the proportion of women who worked. In 1985, 70% of American women aged between 25 and 54 were in the labour market (either in work or looking for it). That compared with 57% in Australia and 59% in Germany. But the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook, published this week, shows how these countries have caught up with America and overtaken it. While the proportion of “prime age” women in the labour market in the United States is now 74%, in Australia it is 76% and in Germany it is 83%.