Wednesday, September 07, 2005


A recent very sophisticated econometric study by Silvia Pezzini of a huge body of data from several European countries looked at the effect of women's rights legislation on women's happiness. The study found, predictably, that getting access to the contraceptive pill was a great load off women's minds. What was much more interesting however, was the effect of laws that made divorce easier and laws that give working women maternity benefits. It was found that easier divorce REDUCES women's happiness overall and that job protection laws for mothers only worked for women who continued to be employed. Particularly in countries like Sweden, the main effect of maternity benefits for working women was that private employers stopped hiring women. Following is an excerpt from the conclusions of the paper:

"The main finding is that following the introduction of birth control rights, women who could take advantage from the policy (that is, they were of childbearing age at the time the policy was introduced) consistently registered an increase in welfare. The magnitude of the welfare gain is equivalent to the return from achieving higher rather than middle education and a third of the size of the gain from being married or cohabiting. It is approximately one tenth of the effect of going up one level on a 12-category scale of income....

At the same time, other women's rights have been less beneficial. The analysis shows that mutual consent divorce laws have decreased women's welfare, while granting high maternity protection in the workplace did not have significant effects, possibly because of negative feedback effects on the `employability' of women.

Source (PDF)

No-one really knows why easier divorce has made the majority of women unhappier but easier divorce certainly reduces the security of marriage and women do tend to value security in relationships highly.

USA Better for Working Women than Sweden

Just as one follow-up to the above, people might be interested in some findings in a 2004 book Key Issues in Women's Work by Catherine Hakim. Swedish women in the workplace who become pregnant must under Swedish law be given all sorts of benefits that few private businesses can afford -- so 75% of Swedish women work for the government. Nobody else wants them. And here's one result of that -- a result that should rile feminists no end:

"What is more, the glass ceiling problem is larger in family-friendly Sweden than it is in the hire-and-fire-at-will US, and it has also grown as family-friendly policies have expanded. In Sweden 1.5% of senior management are women, compared with 11% in the US."


Conservatives keep telling Leftists that things are not as simple as you think and that coercion doesn't work very well -- and Leftists continue not to listen to that. But conservatives generally have the last laugh -- because human beings and human society ARE complex.

I say more about male/female matters in today's POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH.


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