November 27, 2019

Is it true that more government would be better for women? Proposals like government-subsidized child care and government-mandated paid family leave may have many women believing that big government will help them thrive in the long run. But in reality, big government does the opposite: It limits opportunities for women, their freedom, and their flexibility in the workplace.

Independent Women’s Forum President Carrie Lukas sets the record straight in a new Prager University video on how big government hurts women. Government-mandated perks may sound enticing, but in European countries where such policies are common, the results have been lower wages, fewer jobs, and fewer management opportunities for women. That’s because these policies are affecting how companies evaluate their female employees, making companies believe that women employees will cost them more overall. “In the countries with the most extensive benefits for women, women are more likely to be in dead-end jobs and less likely to become managers or top executives,” states Lukas. The data back that up: In the United States, women account for about 40% of senior managers, while that number is just 30% in more progressive European countries.

Another way in which government is holding women back is through requiring unnecessary, expensive, and time-consuming occupational licenses for jobs that have nothing to do with public health or safety, like hair shampooers and braiders. Occupational licensing have less to do with protecting the public and more to do with helping state governments make a revenue and helping politically powerful lobbying groups keep out competition. Women obtain more occupational licenses than men, so they are disproportionately hurt by unneeded occupational licensing requirements. Again, less government would help make the situation better for women.

The Goldwater Institute works to take down these unnecessary hurdles, so that it’s easier for men and women to work without having to obtain a government permission slip to do so. This year, our work helped make Arizona the first state in the country to recognize out-of-state occupational licenses and the second without burdensome licensing requirements for blow-dry stylists. “Breaking down unnecessary government barriers to work empowers women to pursue the careers that they desire,” Goldwater Executive Vice President Christina Sandefur says. “Some women prefer flexible working conditions and are willing to trade that for higher wages. Others are happy to keep regular office hours in exchange for career growth. Women are not homogenous—and one-size-fits-all government regulations prevent individuals from making the decisions that work best for them.”

As Lukas explains, “the free market, it turns out, does a much better job at creating opportunities for women than big government does. This not only means better jobs and better pay for women, but also the chance to craft the lives they actually want.” You can watch the full Prager U video above.

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