During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka vowed that if elected he would alter labor laws that discriminate against women in the workplace and subsequently hurt families. Highlighting that motherhood now creates the greatest discrepancy in U.S. wage earnings, Ivanka insisted that she would fight alongside her father “for equal pay for equal work.” Trump also pledged, repeatedly, to grow the economy by four percent per year. The two are not unrelated, U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney and Heidi Hartmann point out in a joint essay for TIME magazine. Maloney is a Democrat from New York who represents parts of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn and was the ranking member of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee in the 114th Congress, and Hartmann is an economist and president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), a nonprofit D.C.-based think tank.
In searching for a real fiscal stimulus with long-term payoffs the new president would be well-advised to focus on “equal pay for women, investing in paid family leave and quality, affordable child care,” they argue — not just because it’s the right thing to do for women, but because it would benefit the U.S. economy at large.
Maloney and Hartmann cite research by IWPR that shows there are significant economic gains to be made by closing the gender wage gap. IWPR economists calculated that if working women were paid the same as their male counterparts — men who were comparable in terms of their age, level of education, hours worked, and location — then women’s average annual earnings in 2014 would have been $482 billion higher. This equates to an average of $6,551 per working woman. Not only would this money help families make ends meet, it would also provide a boost to the economy, Maloney and Hartmann wrote in the piece. And it doesn’t stop there.
What the IWPR’s calculations further show is the impact that closing the wage gap would have on poverty. At present, women above the age of 75 are twice as likely as men to live in poverty, according to a 2016 report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee Minority Staff. This is little wonder given the gender pay gap subjects women to a lifetime of lower earnings which, in retirement, implies “lower Social Security benefits, pension income and private savings.” By addressing gendered pay differentials, the IWPR suggests the poverty rate for working women would be slashed in half — “from 8.2 percent to 4.0 percent.”
The reasons for women earning, on average, 20 percent less than their male co-workers are multifarious. But so too are the ways in which Trump can begin to tackle this issue and, in so doing, stimulate the economy.
Read the full story at TIME.