The Prevalence of the Populist Critique of Working Women
By Bryan Caplan
The noble Michael Clemens is taking the efficient, egalitarian, libertarian, utilitarian way to double world GDP to the masses. But one passage made me furrow my brow:
All the economic and social arguments against immigrant entry to the
workforce could be – and were – deployed decades ago against female
entry to the workforce. (“But men built those companies! Why should we
allow women to work when there are qualified, unemployed men? Why
should a man pay taxes for a woman’s unemployment insurance? Will
female employees assimilate and act just like men as we all wish? And
what harm will be wrought in the homes they abandon?”)
Now these arguments sound worse than ridiculous.
My question: When, if ever, was this litany of arguments against working women common in public discourse? I grew up in the Seventies and Eighties. The only objection to working mothers (not working women) I remember hearing was “Think of the children.” And even that wasn’t common. I distinctly remember hearing it once in a church sermon, and once on a talking heads show. That’s about it.
Still, I’m happy to defer to the older and wiser. Does my memory of my early years fail me? Was I just not paying attention? Or can we make Clemens right by interpreting “decades ago” to refer to, say, the Thirties? Inquiring minds want to know.