54794 (Author at Cato Institute) https://www.cato.org/rss/people/54794 en Chelsea Follett discusses the Cato event, "The Search for Meaning in the Age of Abundance," on WPRO's The Matt Allen Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/chelsea-follett-discusses-cato-event-search-meaning-age-abundance Wed, 16 Oct 2019 11:37:21 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/chelsea-follett-discusses-cato-event-search-meaning-age-abundance Chelsea Follett discusses overpopulation on WPRO's The Matt Allen Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/chelsea-follett-discusses-overpopulation-wpros-matt-allen-show Wed, 09 Oct 2019 12:09:39 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/chelsea-follett-discusses-overpopulation-wpros-matt-allen-show Chelsea Follett discusses the climate crisis protests on WPRO’s The Matt Allen Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/chelsea-follett-discusses-climate-crisis-protests-wpros-matt Tue, 01 Oct 2019 10:49:28 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/chelsea-follett-discusses-climate-crisis-protests-wpros-matt Chelsea Follett discusses the middle class on WPRO's The Matt Allen Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/chelsea-follett-discusses-middle-class-wpros-matt-allen-show Thu, 19 Sep 2019 10:37:17 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/chelsea-follett-discusses-middle-class-wpros-matt-allen-show Middle Class Shrinking… As Households Become Richer https://www.cato.org/blog/middle-class-shrinking-households-become-richer Chelsea Follett <p>The U.S. economy continues to do well, but many fear that economic expansion only benefits a few Americans, while leaving most households behind. As political analyst Juan Williams <a href="https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/441071-juan-williams-the-reality-of-the-trump-economy">opined</a> in <em>The Hill</em> earlier this year, “The rich got their Trump tax cut. GDP looks good. And the stock market is doing great for people with money to invest. But it is only the rich who get the big rewards in Trump’s economy. What about the middle class?”</p> <p>The middle class, it turns out, is shrinking. But not because they are falling into poverty, as some might have you believe. Rather, it is shrinking because more people are “moving on up,” ascending into a higher income bracket — and living the American dream.</p> <p>Since 2016, the United States has had more wealthy households than middle-class households and the share of low-income households has reached a historic low.</p> <p>This is hardly a new trend. As I <a href="https://humanprogress.org/article.php?p=251&amp;fbclid=IwAR2j2JpXfgVU2kYjOV7Xj2lFIDrX-Njukb0YGO97nVXWS3I27l3fJJR9THM">wrote</a> in 2016, the middle class is shrinking due to growth in rich households. When I last wrote on that topic, though, there were still more middle-class households than rich households.</p> <div class="responsive-embed"></div> <p>According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2018, over 30 percent of U.S. households earned over $100,000 (i.e., the upper class). Fewer than 30 percent of households earned between $50,000 and $100,000 (i.e., the middle class). The share of U.S. households making at least $100,000 has more than tripled since 1967, when just 9 percent of all U.S. households earned that much (all figures are adjusted for inflation).</p> <p>In 2018, the share of households earning less than $50,000 (i.e., the lower class) dropped below 40 percent for the first time since the U.S. Census data on this metric started to be collected in 1967. Back then, 54 percent of households earned less than $50,000.</p> <p>So the next time you hear someone allege that the economy is leaving an increasing share of American households behind or see a pundit bemoan the “shrinking middle class,” take a closer look at the data and keep in mind that a “shrinking middle class” may actually be a sign of growing prosperity.</p> Wed, 18 Sep 2019 16:14:20 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/blog/middle-class-shrinking-households-become-richer Does Capitalism Help or Harm Women? A Debate https://www.cato.org/multimedia/events/does-capitalism-help-or-harm-women-debate Veronique de Rugy, Nicole Aschoff, Chelsea Follett <p>Has the spread of capitalism been a net positive or a net negative for women around the world? Is capitalism an inherently exploitative, oppressive, and patriarchal economic system entwined with the subjugation of women? Or has it helped to empower women, enhancing their material well-being and fostering gender parity? Advocates of women’s welfare disagree on these important questions. As a result, they seek to advance very different economic policies despite a shared goal of promoting female empowerment.</p> Mon, 16 Sep 2019 14:26:37 -0400 Veronique de Rugy, Nicole Aschoff, Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/multimedia/events/does-capitalism-help-or-harm-women-debate Politicians’ Support for Population Control Is Dangerous https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/politicians-support-population-control-dangerous Chelsea Follett <div class="text-default"> <p>Recently, when asked if he would act to “curb population growth” because “the planet cannot sustain this growth,” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders answered in the affirmative, noting he would focus on “poor countries around the world.”</p> <p>Former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Sanders’ rivals and current leading contender for the Democratic nomination, previously voiced acceptance of China’s one-child (now two-child) policy, telling a Chinese audience, “Your policy has been one which I fully understand — I’m not second-guessing — of one child per family.”</p> <p>The problem with embracing a demographic goal to “curb population growth” rather than leaving each family to make their own decisions is that it often results in coercion. Also, the very idea of “overpopulation” is fundamentally misguided.</p> <p>Today, China’s two-child policy still limits family sizes and requires that parents apply for birth permits. This year, one couple who could not afford a fine of $9,570 for violating family planning regulations, had their modest life savings seized. While rarer than under the one-child policy, there are even still cases of forced sterilization and abortion.</p> <p>“A third baby is not allowed so we are renting a home away from our village. The local government carries out pregnancy examinations every three months. If we weren’t in hiding, they would have forced us to have an abortion,” one Chinese father of three told the BBC.</p> <p>The idea of population control is old. In 1798, an English clergyman, Thomas Robert Malthus, published An Essay on the Principle of Population, warning population growth would deplete natural resources. To prevent famine, he thought it morally permissible to “court the return of the plague” by having the poor live in swamps and even to ban “specific remedies for ravaging diseases.” His nonchalant attitude toward the welfare of the poor would prove an enduring part of overpopulation alarmism.</p> <p>In the 1960s and 1970s, Malthus’ view became resurgent. In 1966, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson made foreign aid dependent on countries adopting population control. In 1969, President Richard Nixon established a separate Office of Population within USAID and gave it a $50 million annual budget. In 1977, the head of the office, Dr. Reimert Ravenholt, said that he hoped to sterilize a quarter of the world’s women.</p> <p>By the 1980s, the background document to the International Conference on Family Planning, co-written by the United Nations Population Fund, International Planned Parenthood Federation, and Population Council, decreed, “When provision of contraceptive information and services does not bring down the fertility level quickly enough to help speed up development, governments may decide to limit the freedom of choice of the present generation.”</p> <p>Neo-Malthusianism spread among international organizations and government leaders. The neo-Malthusians offered financial support to the cause of curbing population growth, rewarding governments in poor countries that enacted population control while sounding no alarms when those measures became coercive.</p> <p>India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared an Emergency (1975-77) suspending civil liberties and mandated some 11 million sterilizations. China’s one-child policy (1979-2015) saw over 300 million Chinese women fitted with IUDs modified to be irremovable without surgery, over 100 million sterilizations, and over 300 million abortions, many coerced. In 1983, the UNFPA bestowed the first Population Award prize to Indira Gandhi and to Qian Xinzhong, the man who was then in charge of China’s one-child policy.</p> <p>Ironically, population growth can be beneficial. Wherever people are free to engage in innovation and exchange, economist Julian Simon noted they are the “ultimate resource,” increasing the supply of other resources, discovering alternatives, and improving efficiency.</p> <p><a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/simon-abundance-index-new-way-measure-availability-resources">Research</a> has found every 1 percent increase in population lowers commodity prices by almost 1 percent, meaning each person helps decrease scarcity, on average.</p> <p>Today, population is at an all-time high, yet wherever economic freedom allows humanity to realize its innovative potential, prosperity has exceeded our ancestors’ imaginations.</p> <p>Human wellbeing is improving rapidly, as chronicled on websites like<a href="https://humanprogress.org/"> HumanProgress.org</a> (of which I am managing editor) and<a href="https://ourworldindata.org/"> Our World in Data</a>. Whatever challenges, environmental or otherwise, may loom ahead, it will be human ingenuity that will have to rise to the occasion.</p> <p>The more minds working on solutions, the better.</p> <p>In any case, birth rates tend to fall without coercion as countries grow richer. But the potential for human rights abuses alone is sufficient reason to oppose aiming to “curb population growth.”</p> </div> Fri, 13 Sep 2019 16:31:06 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/politicians-support-population-control-dangerous Chelsea Follett discusses child safety on WPRO's The Matt Allen Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/chelsea-follett-discusses-child-safety-wpros-matt-allen-show Wed, 11 Sep 2019 11:27:25 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/chelsea-follett-discusses-child-safety-wpros-matt-allen-show Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool https://www.cato.org/multimedia/events/cribsheet-data-driven-guide-better-more-relaxed-parenting Emily Oster, Julie Gunlock, Chelsea Follett <p>Economist Emily Oster’s new book,<em>Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool</em>, cuts through the alarmist rhetoric and fearmongering that surrounds modern-day parenting with a cool-headed look at the data. Oster’s book argues there is no single optimal set of child-rearing decisions. Rather, she applies economic thinking to help parents evaluate the available choices for themselves. She also shows that many widely held views and official government recommendations for parents are not backed up by evidence. Join us to hear Oster and Julie Gunlock discuss the ”dismal science”, statistical literacy, and how to make parenting decisions in the face of an alarmist parenting culture.</p> Tue, 10 Sep 2019 10:36:20 -0400 Emily Oster, Julie Gunlock, Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/multimedia/events/cribsheet-data-driven-guide-better-more-relaxed-parenting Chelsea Follett discusses climate change on WPRO’s The Matt Allen Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/chelsea-follett-discusses-climate-change-wpros-matt-allen-show Wed, 04 Sep 2019 10:00:00 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/chelsea-follett-discusses-climate-change-wpros-matt-allen-show Chelsea Follett discusses the state of global poverty on WPRO's The Matt Allen Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/chelsea-follett-discusses-state-global-poverty-wpros-matt-allen Wed, 21 Aug 2019 10:59:00 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/chelsea-follett-discusses-state-global-poverty-wpros-matt-allen An Old-Fashioned Recipe for Economic Growth https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/old-fashioned-recipe-economic-growth Chelsea Follett, Marian L. Tupy <div class="lead text-default"> <p>With the recent inversion of the yield curve sparking recession fears in the United States and the stock market swinging wildly in response to the ongoing trade negotiations with China, some are wondering if the longest economic expansion in American history may soon come to an end. Those uncertainties bring renewed urgency to the age-old question at the heart of economics: what creates wealth?</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Throughout most of human history, there was almost no wealth. People were very poor, and there weren't that many of us. While our species is roughly 300,000 years old, for the first 290,000 years or so we were foragers barely scraping by. Even after <em>Homo sapiens </em>embraced agriculture, progress was still painfully slow. But then, suddenly, population skyrocketed, followed shortly by an explosion in income and standards of living.</p> <p>Between 1700 and 1900, the world's population rose from about 600 million people to about 1.5 billion people. Between 1800 and 1900, GDP per person per day doubled. Income grew over twice as much in that century as in the preceding 18 centuries combined. The two trends of rising income and population are related.</p> <p>It is obvious how wealth allows for a larger population, but could a larger population in turn also create more wealth? The answer is yes — so long as people are allowed to innovate. The computer or tablet or smartphone on which you are reading this op-ed is the product of a complex web of human innovation and cooperation that spans the globe.</p> <p>People have been innovating since the australopithecines left the African forests — carrying primitive weapons — some seven million years ago. Moreover, we have been specializing at least since <em>Homo erectus</em> some two million years ago. Yet economic progress was very slow. So, what did the species do differently in the last 250 years or so? What allowed humanity at last to fully realize its innovative potential to create wealth?</p> <p>To figure out what caused the wealth explosion, we need to consider where and when the change began. Economic growth started to accelerate some 250 years ago, first in Great Britain and the Netherlands, then the rest of Western Europe and North America, and finally the rest of the world. What happened?</p> <p>There are different theories, many of them complementary. The Nobel-prize-winning economist Douglass North contends that the evolution of institutions, including constitutions, laws, and property rights, was instrumental to economic development. Economist Deirdre McCloskey attributes the wealth explosion, or the “great enrichment,” to a change in attitudes about markets and innovation. Long scorned as vulgar, merchants and inventors began to enjoy respect and institutional protection — what she calls “bourgeois dignity.”</p> <p>But there was also a broader change in the way people thought. It wasn’t just that the British and the Dutch started to look upon shopkeepers and manufacturers without disdain and instead to respect them. Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker argues that progress is ultimately rooted in the values of the Enlightenment. He claims that reason, science, and humanism are behind the transformation.</p> <p>Another scholar, Stephen Davies, believes that innovation took off in Europe because of interstate competition. Historically, empires like China, Russia, Mughal India, the Ottoman Empire, and Safavid Iran were so large that conflict among them ended in a stalemate. The primary danger to their sovereignty was internal instability, and so they suppressed ideas and innovations that threatened the traditional order in the name of stability.</p> <p>But Europe was divided between many constantly warring powers, so the ruling classes could not totally suppress progress without risking the loss of sovereignty. They relied on innovation to keep them in power, and so they allowed innovation to take place. Over time, new ideas as well as greater inclusivity of political and economic frameworks allowed for a sustained increase in human numbers and prosperity.</p> <p>For the first time, the individual was sovereign, innovation was honored, and human rights were (increasingly) respected. Today, the world's population is at an all-time high even as hunger and illiteracy are at all-time lows. The revolution in ideas and institutions, in other words, transformed humanity's lot — for the better.</p> <p>The basic recipe for economic growth is still the same today. Like a beloved family cooking recipe, handed down through the generations, it has stood the test of time. Elected officials can help the U.S. economy to continue to grow by allowing the American people to innovate and exchange. To do so, burdensome regulations and taxes should be eliminated and lowered, and trade wars should be ended.</p> </div> Fri, 16 Aug 2019 10:12:00 -0400 Chelsea Follett, Marian L. Tupy https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/old-fashioned-recipe-economic-growth Despite Federal Return, Capital Punishment Is Dying Out https://www.cato.org/blog/despite-federal-return-capital-punishment-dying-out Chelsea Follett <p dir="ltr">The U.S. federal government recently ordered the death penalty to be reinstated for the first time in sixteen years and has scheduled the execution of five death row inmates. This policy change goes against the widespread trend toward fewer executions.</p> <p dir="ltr">Twenty-one U.S. states, plus the District of Columbia, have totally abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Seven of those states abolished the practice in my lifetime. New Hampshire just officially abolished it in 2019.</p> <p dir="ltr">In many U.S. states where executions are still legal, none have been carried out for years and the law is mainly symbolic. Kansas, for example, has not executed any prisoners in over forty years. The U.S. federal government, similarly, never officially abolished the death penalty but has had a moratorium on the practice since 2004 – a moratorium ended by the new policy ordered by Attorney General William Barr.</p> <p dir="ltr">Harvard University’s Steven Pinker has chronicled the decline of capital punishment in his book, <em>The Better Angels of Our Nature</em>. He <a href="https://humanprogress.org/statline?p=1158&amp;yf=1640&amp;yl=2010" target="_blank">estimated</a> that the execution rate in the United States has been falling for four centuries, from nearly 3.5 executions per 100,000 people in the 17th century. His graph is pictured below.</p> <p dir="ltr"> </p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="67317fc3-0207-4d67-961f-e8d12784c7a5" data-langcode="und" class="embedded-entity"> <p><img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/download-remote-images/humanprogress.org/211915457862/statline_pz1158-yfz2010-ylz2010.png?itok=MmiGvJtJ 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/download-remote-images/humanprogress.org/211915457862/statline_pz1158-yfz2010-ylz2010.png?itok=YCpzCG8Q 1.5x" width="700" height="320" src="https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/download-remote-images/humanprogress.org/211915457862/statline_pz1158-yfz2010-ylz2010.png?itok=MmiGvJtJ" alt="Media Name: statline_pz1158-yfz2010-ylz2010.png" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></p></div> <p dir="ltr">Trends against capital punishment can also be observed abroad as well. Consider Europe. Prior to the Enlightenment, European nations once used the death penalty for a vast number of crimes. England, for example, had 222 capital offenses in its legal system well into the 18th century. Until the early 19th century, it <a href="https://humanprogress.org/article.php?p=1649" target="_blank">deemed</a> many minor crimes, such as stealing anything worth more than four dollars in today’s currency, to be worthy of execution. As the values of the Enlightenment spread, that number of capital offenses shrunk to four by the middle of the 19th century. Today, in Europe, capital punishment remains legal only in Belarus and Russia. </p> <p dir="ltr"> </p> <p dir="ltr">The change extends beyond Europe. This year, Malaysia <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-malaysia-politics-deathpenalty/malaysia-to-keep-death-penalty-but-no-longer-mandatory-idUSKBN1QU12R" target="_blank">abolished</a> mandatory capital punishment. Last year, Burkina Faso abolished the death penalty in its new penal code. Moreover, Gambia and Malaysia declared an official moratorium on executions. Last year, Amnesty International <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/04/death-penalty-facts-and-figures-2018/" target="_blank">noted</a>, at least 690 executions took place in 20 countries. That number was 31 percent lower than in 2017. The vast majority of recorded executions happen in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Iraq. </p> <p dir="ltr">Then there are China and North Korea. The two communist countries execute more people than other countries and may well execute more people individually than the rest of the world combined. Unfortunately, there are no reliable statistics for those secretive societies. </p> <p dir="ltr">The move to reinstate capital punishment federally in the United States represents a reversal after more than a decade-long hiatus in the federal use of capital punishment. But opponents of the practice can take heart in the successful abolition of the death penalty in an increasing number of U.S. states and countries around the world.</p> Mon, 29 Jul 2019 15:39:00 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/blog/despite-federal-return-capital-punishment-dying-out Chelsea Follett discusses the article, "Are Americans Really Worse off Than in the 1970s?," on WPRO's The Matt Allen Show https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/chelsea-follett-discusses-article-are-americans-really-worse-1970s Wed, 17 Jul 2019 10:20:00 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-radio/chelsea-follett-discusses-article-are-americans-really-worse-1970s The Cruel Truth about Population Control https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/cruel-truth-about-population-control Chelsea Follett <div class="lead text-default"> <p>Canada’s government has issued a <a href="https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/final-report/" target="_blank">report</a> concluding that the country’s mistreatment of indigenous women amounts to genocide, citing, among other travesties, nonconsensual sterilizations. In North America, various prejudices motivate coercive population control policies; in Asia, where most forced sterilizations take place today, unfounded overpopulation alarmism acts as the primary motivation. However it may be rationalized, there is never any moral or practical justification for coerced sterilization.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>In late 2018, sixty indigenous Canadian women alleged that they had suffered forced sterilizations and <a href="https://www.npr.org/2018/11/19/669145197/indigenous-women-in-canada-file-class-action-suit-over-forced-sterilization" target="_blank">filed</a> a class-action lawsuit against the Saskatchewan province health system. New allegations have continued to come forth in 2019, and one recent <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/coerced-sterilization-moose-jaw-senate-committee-1.5083554" target="_blank">account</a> claims an involuntary sterilization took place as recently as last December.</p> <p>The United States has its own sinister history of forced sterilizations. Roughly <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/03/07/469478098/the-supreme-court-ruling-that-led-to-70-000-forced-sterilizations" target="_blank">seventy thousand</a> individuals were forcibly sterilized in the twentieth century under “eugenic” legislation in the United States. Eugenics was the pseudoscience of trying to improve the population by preventing people thought to have inferior genes from having children. Marginalized groups such as Native Americans were particularly vulnerable. In the 1960s and 1970s, one out of four U.S. Native American women <a href="https://daily.jstor.org/the-little-known-history-of-the-forced-sterilization-of-native-american-women/" target="_blank">underwent</a> sterilization, with that figure rising as high as 50 percent between 1970 and 1976.</p> <p></p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>No matter how it may be rationalized, there is never any moral or practical justification for coerced sterilization.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Recent cases of forced sterilization in the United States have targeted prisoners, echoing earlier eugenic policies intended to eliminate criminal behavior. Tennessee only <a href="https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/04/17/tennessee-lawmakers-pass-bill-forbid-judges-sterilizing-inmates/524290002/" target="_blank">banned</a> the coercive sterilization of inmates last year. In 2014, California <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/health/womens-health/california-bans-sterilization-female-inmates-without-consent-n212256" target="_blank">passed</a> legislation to stop prisons from non-consensually sterilizing inmates. More than a quarter of tubal ligation sterilization surgeries in Californian prisons from 2004 to 2013 were carried out without the prisoner's consent.</p> <p>As disturbing as reports of coercive population control in the United States and Canada are, such abuses occur on a far larger scale today in India and China.</p> <p>In 2016, the Supreme Court of India ruled that “informed consent is often not obtained from patients prior to conducting the procedures” in mass sterilization camps and <a href="https://www.escr-net.org/caselaw/2017/devika-biswas-v-union-india-others-petition-no-95-2012" target="_blank">directed</a> the government to discontinue them. However, an <a href="https://www.elle.com/uk/life-and-culture/a23078460/botched-sterilisation-surgeries-killing-indian-women/" target="_blank">investigation</a> last year found that camps continue to thrive in the same way as prior to the 2016 ruling. And the U.S. State Department’s <em>Country Reports on Human Rights Practices</em> for 2018 <a href="https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/CHINA-INCLUDES-TIBET-HONG-KONG-AND-MACAU-2018.pdf" target="_blank">found</a> that “coerced abortions and sterilizations” continue to take place in China, which softened its “one-child policy,” restricting families to a single child, to a “two-child policy” beginning in 2016.</p> <p>The victims of recent cases of forced sterilization in the United States and Canada are marginalized groups: indigenous women in Canada, and incarcerated, often ethnically minority, women in the United States. Bigotry and paternalism are likely behind these abuses.</p> <p>The primary motivator of coercive population control measures in China and India is different: concerns about so-called overpopulation. In the 1970s, alarmist writings such as the Club of Rome’s report <em>The Limits to Growth</em> and Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich’s book <a href="https://amzn.to/2IHnfet" target="_blank"><em>The Population Bomb</em></a> helped spread fear that overpopulation would deplete resources and result in disastrous shortages. That fear funneled money towards population control. In the 1970s, encouraged by tens of millions of dollars loaned from the World Bank, the Swedish International Development Authority and the UN Population Fund, India began large-scale sterilization efforts. Those efforts peaked in 1975, when the prime minister suspended civil liberties in a national “emergency” and sterilized over <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-30040790" target="_blank">six million</a> people in a single year. In 1979, China instituted its infamous one-child policy, <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/20192474?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents" target="_blank">inspired</a> by <em>The Limits to Growth</em>.</p> <p>It should be noted that, in addition to overpopulation fears, there are also cases of prejudice against ethnic or religious minorities in China and India. Many victims of forced abortion under the two-child policy in China are minorities, such as ethnic <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/kazakh-woman-tells-of-forced-abortions-in-china/29527881.html" target="_blank">Kazakhs</a> and <a href="https://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/exile-09242018134155.html" target="_blank">Uyghurs</a>. Those groups practice Islam, a minority religion the government <a href="http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1134757.shtml" target="_blank">deems</a> insufficiently Chinese. And in India last year, a union minister of one of India’s two major political parties <a href="https://www.firstpost.com/politics/giriraj-singh-calls-for-law-to-curb-population-to-save-indias-democracy-from-growing-divisive-forces-5195511.html/amp" target="_blank">opined</a> that the government must formulate “a law regarding population control” to save India “from the growing” non-Hindu population. Still, many victims of coercive population control in both China and India do not belong to any minority group.</p> <p>While the abuses alone are reason enough to oppose coercive policies, the premise that “overpopulation” is a problem at all is incorrect. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. New <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/simon-abundance-index-r-2019" target="_blank">research</a> shows that population growth goes hand-in-hand with more abundant resources.</p> <p>Consider the amount of time it takes an average person to earn enough money to buy one unit in a basket of fifty basic commodities—the “time-price” of those items, so to speak. <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/simon-abundance-index-new-way-measure-availability-resources" target="_blank">The Simon Abundance Index</a>, coauthored with Marian Tupy, found that between 1980 and 2018, the time-price declined by nearly one percent for every one percent increase in population. In other words, every additional human being to be born seems to make resources proportionately more plentiful for the rest of us.</p> <p>Moreover, economic development causes birth rates to fall without any need for draconian population control measures. It is now well-documented that as countries grow richer, and people escape poverty, they tend to opt for smaller families. That phenomenon is called the fertility transition.</p> <p>In 1979, the year the one-child policy began, China's birth rate <a href="https://humanprogress.org/dwline?p=106&amp;c0=6&amp;c1=214&amp;c2=96&amp;yf=1978&amp;yl=2015&amp;high=1&amp;reg=2&amp;reg1=0" target="_blank">was</a> just under three children per woman. China's economy has grown dramatically since it adopted policies of greater economic freedom in 1978, and as the country has grown richer, its fertility rate has fallen. The decline has been perfectly in line with trends in neighboring countries that have also seen rapid economic growth, and that do not coercively limit family sizes.</p> <p>In India, where liberalizing <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/twenty-five-years-indian-economic-reform" target="_blank">economic reforms</a> didn't begin until 1992, much later than <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/working-paper/genesis-evolution-chinas-economic-liberalization" target="_blank">in China</a>, the birth rate has also <a href="https://humanprogress.org/dwline?p2=106&amp;p=1153&amp;c0=4&amp;c1=6&amp;yf=1970&amp;yl=2019&amp;high=1&amp;reg=3&amp;reg1=2" target="_blank">fallen</a>, albeit less dramatically. This change has occurred as India has grown richer, though not as rich as China. As with China, the decline in India's birth rate is in line with trends seen in neighboring countries, most of which have seen even steeper declines as their economies have grown. In fact, among India's neighbors, only Pakistan and war-torn Afghanistan have higher birth rates, although their birth rates are declining as well.</p> <p>Overpopulation hysteria is just as groundless a reason to forcibly limit reproduction as ethnic or religious bigotry and the pseudoscience of eugenics. Whether motivated by a desire to keep marginalized people from having children or to shrink the population, coercive population control remains abhorrent.</p> </div> Thu, 13 Jun 2019 09:11:00 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/cruel-truth-about-population-control China Can't Use Overpopulation to Justify 'Two-Child' Policy https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/china-cant-use-overpopulation-justify-two-child-policy Chelsea Follett <div class="lead text-default"> <p>The abortion debate has intensified following a series of new abortion restrictions in a number of U.S. states. One thing that both those on the “pro-choice” and the “pro-life” side can agree on is that <em>forced</em> abortion disregards women’s choices and constitutes a human rights violation. What many people may not realize is that forced abortions are, deplorably, still taking place in China under the two-child policy. Worst of all, the rationale behind these abuses—fear of overpopulation—is fundamentally misguided.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/30/world/asia/china-end-one-child-policy.html" target="_blank">In 2015, China ended its “one-child policy,”</a> which restricted families to a single child, and has since adopted a “two-child policy,” but coercion still occurs.</p> <p>The U.S. State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018 <a href="https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/CHINA-INCLUDES-TIBET-HONG-KONG-AND-MACAU-2018.pdf" target="_blank">found</a> that “coerced abortions and sterilizations” continue to take place under China’s revised Population and Family Planning Law. The 2018 report relates that forced abortions were carried out in the provinces of Hubei, Hunan, and Liaoning, among others, and it also found that forced abortion protocols remained on the books in the provinces of Guizhou and Yunnan.</p> <p></p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>While the human rights abuses alone are reason enough to oppose family size limits, the premise that "overpopulation" is a problem at all is incorrect.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>“A third baby is not allowed so we are renting a home away from our village. The local government carries out pregnancy examinations every three months. If we weren’t in hiding, they would have forced us to have an abortion,” a Chinese father of three <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-37788712" target="_blank">told</a> the BBC.</p> <p>In response to the question, “If they had come for your wife, to carry out this forced abortion, would it have been possible to resist? Could you have refused?” the father answered, “No we cannot resist. There would be many family planning officers to take us away. They would put us in a van, directly to the family planning office, for the abortion.”</p> <p>Ethnic and religious minorities are often the targets of forced abortions. The Chinese government brutally discriminates against the minorities in China’s westernmost region, Xinjiang. This area has a large population of minority ethnic groups such as Uyghurs and Kazakhs, who practice Islam, which conflicts with the Communist Party’s state atheism. Even many people who have heard of the persecution of these groups may not realize that many women belonging to them are <a href="https://www.rferl.org/a/kazakh-woman-tells-of-forced-abortions-in-china/29527881.html" target="_blank">forced</a> to have abortions against their will.</p> <p>Prejudice against minorities motivates some of the forced abortions in China under the two-child policy, but far from all of them. The coercive policy also affects many members of the majority ethnicity. For example, the <em>Wall Street Journal</em><a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-limit-to-chinas-rise-its-getting-old-fast-1525028331" target="_blank"> reported</a> that in 2018 a high school teacher with two children, surnamed Sun, in Hebei province, aborted her pregnancy after being threatened with job dismissal and a fine. The fine for an illegal birth can reach ten times the mother’s annual disposable income.</p> <p>What motivates these human rights abuses? Overpopulation alarmism.</p> <p>The Chinese government began coercively limiting family size in response to misguided overpopulation fears that became popular among Chinese officials in the 1970s, when the central arguments behind the Club of Rome’s report, “The Limits to Growth,” were translated into Chinese. The book warned, incorrectly, that population growth would deplete resources and lead to a “collapse” of society.</p> <p>Hence in 1979, China imposed the infamous policy that restricted each family to one child, to try to limit population growth and prevent resource scarcity, and to this day restricts families to two children.</p> <p>What the Chinese government does not realize is that a growing population does not necessarily bring about scarcity. On the contrary, new<a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/simon-abundance-index-new-way-measure-availability-resources"> research</a> shows that population growth goes hand-in-hand with more abundant resources.</p> <p>Consider the amount of time it takes an average person to earn enough money to buy one unit in a basket of 50 basic commodities—the “time-price” of those items, so to speak. The Simon Abundance Index found that between 1980 and 2017, the time-price "declined by 0.934 percent for every one percent increase in population. That means that every additional human being born on our planet seems to make resources proportionately more plentiful for the rest of us.”</p> <p>Moreover, economic development causes birth rates to fall without draconian population control measures. It is now well-documented that as countries grow richer, and people escape poverty, they opt for smaller families. That phenomenon is called the fertility transition.</p> <p>In 1979, the year the one-child policy began, China’s birth rate <a href="https://humanprogress.org/dwline?p=106&amp;c0=6&amp;c1=214&amp;c2=96&amp;yf=1978&amp;yl=2015&amp;high=1&amp;reg=2&amp;reg1=0" target="_blank">was</a> just under three children per woman. China’s economy has grown dramatically since it adopted policies of greater economic freedom in 1978, and as the country has grown richer, its fertility rate has fallen. The decline has been perfectly in line with trends in neighboring countries that have also seen rapid economic growth, and that do not coercively limit family sizes.</p> <p>South Korea, where the fertility rate was very similar (and in fact slightly higher than China’s) in 1979, has seen an even steeper decline since then and today has fewer births per woman than China. So too does Hong Kong, an autonomous region of China where families are free to have as many children as they choose.</p> <p>While the human rights abuses alone are reason enough to oppose family size limits, the premise that “overpopulation” is a problem at all is incorrect. China’s two-child policy is not only inhumane, but pointless.</p> </div> Fri, 07 Jun 2019 08:24:00 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/china-cant-use-overpopulation-justify-two-child-policy Why Measles Making the News Is a Sign of Progress https://www.cato.org/blog/why-measles-making-news-sign-progress Chelsea Follett <p>A set of measles outbreaks in Washington state, New York City, and elsewhere, is making national headlines and frightening parents around the United States. Counter-intuitively, measles making the news is a sign of progress. Not long ago, measles was so common that it was simply not newsworthy. Suffering from the extremely infectious disease, which causes spotty rashes and a hacking cough, was widespread and often deadly.&#13;<br /> &#13;<br /> It was once the case that even royalty fell victim to diseases now easily preventable with routine shots given during childhood. Measles <a href="https://www.history.com/news/hawaii-monarchy-downfall-measles-outbreak" target="_blank">killed</a> the un-vaccinated King Kamehameha II of Hawaii, and his queen, Kamamalu, in the 1800s. A century prior to that, King Louis XIV of France lost his brother, son, grandson, and great-grandson to smallpox. Smallpox once claimed approximately 400,000 lives annually in Europe in the late 18th century, and in the 20th century, it caused hundreds of millions of deaths around the world. Thanks to vaccines, smallpox was eradicated in 1980.&#13;<br /> &#13;<br /> As recently as the late 1950s and early 1960s, nearly <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1963/03/28/archives/the-measles-vaccine.html" target="_blank">twice</a> as many children died from measles as from the polio disease. Thanks, once again, to vaccines, polio was <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/polio/us/index.html" target="_blank">eliminated</a> from the United States in 1979.&#13;<br /> &#13;<br /> Recent <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2019/04/16/how-patient-zero-spread-measles-across-state-lines-infected-people/" target="_blank">coverage</a> by the <em>Washington Post</em> of the current measles outbreaks contains an amazing anecdote of a measles victim’s visit to a doctor: “the doctor, who had never seen measles, misdiagnosed the man’s fever and cough as bronchitis.” That measles is now so rare that even a trained medical doctor cannot recognize it, when just a generation ago it was a common childhood ailment, is truly a triumph of medical progress.&#13;<br /> &#13;</p> <div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="d63990b8-bcbf-473b-9fc6-19d24f549514" data-langcode="und" class="embedded-entity"> <p><img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/download-remote-images/humanprogress.org/211915457862/measles-graph.png?itok=wWwVZkr7 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/download-remote-images/humanprogress.org/211915457862/measles-graph.png?itok=cjEzfY6d 1.5x" width="700" height="416" src="https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/download-remote-images/humanprogress.org/211915457862/measles-graph.png?itok=wWwVZkr7" alt="Media Name: measles-graph.png" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></p></div> <p> &#13;<br /> &#13;<br /> As recently as 1990, measles caused over 22 deaths per 100,000 people globally. Thanks to the measles vaccine and rising global vaccination rates, that figure fell to just over 1 per 100,000  people by 2016, the most recent year for which there is data. That represents a <a href="https://humanprogress.org/dwline?p2=401&amp;p=1013&amp;r0=82&amp;yf=1990&amp;yl=2016&amp;high=1&amp;reg=3&amp;reg1=3" target="_blank">decline</a> in measles deaths of over 95 percent.&#13;<br /> &#13;<br /> The current uptick in measles cases is troubling. But the fact that measles cases are making the news at all is a testament to medical progress.</p> Wed, 15 May 2019 10:30:07 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/blog/why-measles-making-news-sign-progress Venezuela Shows Why Socialism's Failure Still Matters https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/venezuela-shows-why-socialisms-failure-still-matters Chelsea Follett <div class="lead text-default"> <p>Last week, a number of left-wing activists <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/were-not-going-to-leave-three-arrested-activists-face-dwindling-supplies-on-day-3-of-venezuelan-embassy-protests-in-dc/2019/05/02/a0dc0728-6d0a-11e9-a66d-a82d3f3d96d5_story.html?utm_term=.ec05d31b2258" target="_blank">occupied</a> the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC, while Venezuelan-Americans counter-protested outside the building and demanded the end of socialism in the Latin American country. Today’s proponents of socialism often fault their critics for equating twenty-first-century “democratic socialism” with totalitarian versions of that philosophy, which dominated many countries in the twentieth century and continue to exist in places like Cuba and North Korea today.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>But the comparison between old and contemporary kinds of socialism is still warranted.</p> <p>First, democratic socialists too often slip into support for socialist dictatorships—the phenomenon extends beyond the Maduro fans at the Venezuelan embassy. Up until Venezuela’s collapse became undeniable, prominent socialists heaped praise on the country as an example of successful socialism. In 2011, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders <a href="https://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2019/01/25/flashback-when-bernie-sanders-said-america-should-be-like-venezuela-n2540180" target="_blank">touted</a> on his official U.S. Senate website an article proclaiming, “These days, the American dream is more apt to be realized in ... Venezuela ... where incomes are actually more equal.” Sanders has also praised both Fidel Castro’s Cuba and the Soviet Union (where he honeymooned). The UK’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has, on camera, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dsp3XLHZtkQ" target="_blank">called</a> Chávez “an inspiration to all of us” for having allegedly, “showed us there is a different and a better way of doing things. It’s called socialism, it’s called social justice, and it’s something that Venezuela has made a big step toward.”</p> <p></p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>We should not ignore the lessons of twentieth-century socialism's failures, nor turn a blind eye to what socialism has wrought in Venezuela.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Mark Weisbrot of the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/07/venezuela-not-greece-latin-america-oil-poverty" target="_blank">criticized</a>warnings about Venezuela’s socialist path, writing in <em>The Guardian</em> in 2013, “Predicting a Venezuelan apocalypse won't make it happen.” Those words have aged badly.</p> <p>Sympathy toward authoritarian socialism by some on the political Left is, sadly, nothing new. During the height of Stalinism, the Moscow correspondent for the<em> New York Times</em>(and Stalin admirer) Walter Duranty famously lied to hide the mass starvation in Ukraine and the extent of the dictator’s crimes, and was rewarded with a Pulitzer Prize.</p> <p>As if socialists occasionally suffering from a blind spot for socialist despots weren’t enough, the second reason that the “old” socialism remains relevant is that the policy program of today’s socialists has not meaningfully evolved.</p> <p>Today’s self-identifying socialists may no longer regularly speak of direct government ownership of the means of production (with occasional <a href="https://www.currentaffairs.org/2018/07/there-is-nothing-inherently-wrong-with-state-ownership" target="_blank">exceptions</a> like analyst Matt Bruenig of the People's Policy Project), but the rhetorical shift of contemporary socialists masks support for what are, in effect, policies similar to those that existed in socialist countries in the twentieth century. Harvard University’s Jeffrey Miron and my colleague Ryan Bourne have <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/democratic-socialism-scenic-route-serfdom" target="_blank">noted</a> that “the distinction between government ownership and financing will be illusory in practice.” When taxpayer dollars finance goods or services, private alternatives will struggle to compete with “free” ones, thus eroding market-based competition.</p> <p>Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed set of reforms, the “Green New Deal,” offers a wish list of socialist policies. Its demands for dramatic transport sector and infrastructure overhauls, a jobs guarantee that would make the government the largest employer, tighter labor market regulation, stronger labor unions, and restricted trade, all represent concrete steps away from market-led decisionmaking and towards centralized planning. Other policies popular among modern day socialists include “free” college (which will have to be covered through increased taxation), a higher minimum wage, distortionary tax rates on corporations and the rich, and<a href="https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2015/11/20/9767096/bernie-sanders-socialism-jacobin" target="_blank">converting</a> shareholder firms into worker-owned cooperatives.</p> <p>These policies would end up devastating the economy through a combination of enterprise-crippling regulation, elimination of market competition, and the removal of the price mechanism to match supply with demand and allocate resources efficiently. Like the so-called “market socialism” of the former Yugoslavia in decades past, the “democratic socialism” now enjoying popularity is simply an attempt at rebranding without new ideas or real improvement. Socialist policies inevitably do damage, even in the oft-vaunted Scandinavian countries, which achieved economic success before the rise of their welfare states. In Sweden, for example, out-of-control public spending led to the 1990 economic crisis and Sweden has since wisely reversed course somewhat. Norway and Denmark are both currently led by government coalitions favoring more free-market policies.</p> <p>We should not ignore the lessons of twentieth-century socialism’s failures, nor turn a blind eye to what socialism has wrought in Venezuela—as some socialists, sadly, do. Until the socialist movement evolves different policies, these failures remain relevant. There is no reason to think that the same policies that failed in the past will produce different results in the future.</p> </div> Thu, 09 May 2019 15:47:00 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/venezuela-shows-why-socialisms-failure-still-matters Paul Ehrlich's Jaws Is Tough to Chew https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/paul-ehrlichs-jaws-tough-chew Chelsea Follett <div class="lead text-default"> <p>Archaeologists have <a href="https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/weird-news/774321/archaeology-poop-coprolites-prehistoric-caveman" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/weird-news/774321/archaeology-poop-coprolites-prehistoric-caveman&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1556977545328000&amp;usg=AFQjCNH9BKp1sBScMRV6SNy5q8XaCcPgaQ">discovered</a> fossil evidence of a caveman having eaten an entire rattlesnake, fangs and all. Even in these polarizing times, most people would agree that meals getting easier to swallow since the Stone Age represents a positive change. But not everyone.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Paul Ehrlich, the infamous overpopulation alarmist who <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon%E2%80%93Ehrlich_wager" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon%25E2%2580%2593Ehrlich_wager&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1556977545328000&amp;usg=AFQjCNG34gfBzd7bwNjdzhoJmB_WtrfUBw">bet</a> economist Julian Simon that a growing population would lead to resource scarcity (and lost), is still fearmongering. Instead of overpopulation, his latest book project decries, bizarrely, what he considers to be the pathetic size of modern jawlines. Along with coauthor Sandra Kahn, an orthodontist, he argues that modern postindustrial lifestyles have led humans to develop smaller jaws with a higher likelihood for crooked teeth due to dental overcrowding.</p> <p></p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Ehrlich believes that population growth and the associated rise in consumption must lead to environmental collapse, exhaustion of natural resources, food shortages, and mass starvation. The data suggest otherwise.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Ehrlich may very well be right about changes in the size of human jawlines. But if he is — so what?</p> <p>Because people no longer spend long periods of time having to chew tough, uncooked food that they personally scavenged and hunted, their jaws have not had to work as hard as their ancestors’ did. The ready availability of cheap, softer foods, the theory goes, has led jawlines to shrink. (It has also <a href="https://humanprogress.org/article.php?p=354" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://humanprogress.org/article.php?p%3D354&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1556977545328000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEELIQw5cJaDdAoSoUxL1aabaFjxg">brought</a> hunger to an all-time low).</p> <p>“We know from fossil evidence that hunter-gatherers had big, well-developed jaws,” Ehrlich <a href="https://news.stanford.edu/2018/04/10/paul-ehrlich-problems-modern-jaw/" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://news.stanford.edu/2018/04/10/paul-ehrlich-problems-modern-jaw/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1556977545328000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHREn-J-EmQMGUtYQXlgFFg4eAQxA">told</a> Stanford News. “I’ve never seen a hunter-gatherer skull with crooked teeth,” he recalls a paleontologist colleague telling him. The Stanford University biologist criticizes baby food manufacturers for producing soft mushy foods that prevent infants from choking and suggests that parents instead feed their babies, from the moment they are weaned, tough foods that require intense chewing. This, he theorizes, would encourage stronger jaw development.</p> <p>Fortunately, crooked teeth can be corrected with braces. Most people would likely agree that having to hunt and gather all of one’s meals and give up the comforts of the modern age in exchange for perfectly straight teeth would be a bad deal. “The stakes aren’t as high as with something like climate disruption, which could lead to billions of premature deaths,” claims Ehrlich to Stanford News. “But <em>Jaws</em> describes an epidemic that is causing a lot of expense — think braces — and misery.”</p> <p>In his strange quest to bemoan ever more aspects of the modern life, Ehrlich seems to be once again over-reaching with this one. Braces just aren’t that bad. But at least this project momentarily distracted Ehrlich from his far more harmful alarmism about overpopulation.</p> <p>Ehrlich’s decades of overpopulation fearmongering have led to far more human misery than braces ever have. In the 1970s, Ehrlich helped bring Malthusian overpopulation hysteria back into vogue. His ideas helped to legitimize human rights abuses around the world, including millions of forced sterilizations in Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and India, as well as China’s cruel one-child (now two-child) policy.</p> <p>Ehrlich still believes that population growth and the associated rise in consumption must lead to environmental collapse, exhaustion of natural resources, food shortages, and mass starvation. The data suggest otherwise. In fact, population growth actually goes hand in hand with increasing abundance.</p> <p>The authors of <em><a href="https://humanprogress.org/simonproject" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://humanprogress.org/simonproject&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1556977545328000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFPfelZDB-lZjfP-ty-XBzslWIZtg">The Simon Project</a></em> calculate that the planet’s resources became 380% more abundant between 1980, the year of Simon and Ehrlich’s wager, and 2017, even as the world population grew dramatically. Over the past 37 years, every additional human born on the planet, regardless of the size of their jawlines, seems to have made resources proportionately more plentiful for the rest of humanity. The world is now experiencing “superabundance,” meaning that the cost of commodities is decreasing even faster than population is growing.</p> <p>The data show that the modern age is actually pretty great — and that’s something to chew on.</p> </div> Sun, 05 May 2019 08:52:00 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/paul-ehrlichs-jaws-tough-chew How Anti-Humanism Conquered the Left https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/how-anti-humanism-conquered-left Chelsea Follett <div class="lead text-default"> <p>Today is International Workers’ Day, a holiday with socialist origins. Its name hearkens back to a time when the political Left was ostensibly devoted to the cause of human welfare. These days, however, some on the far Left care less about the wellbeing of people than they do about making sure that people are never born at all. How did these radicals come to support a massive reduction in human population, if not humanity’s demise? Whether it’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questioning the morality of childbearing, <a href="https://qz.com/1590642/these-millennials-are-going-on-birth-strike-due-to-climate-change/" target="_blank">a birth-strike movement</a> that encourages people to forego parenthood despite the “grief that [they say they] feel as a result,” or political commentator Bill Maher <a href="https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/04/13/maher_falling_birth_rates_are_a_good_thing_world_is_too_crowded.html" target="_blank">blithely claiming</a>, “I can’t think of a better gift to our planet than pumping out fewer humans to destroy it,” a misanthropic philosophy known as “anti-natalism” is going increasingly mainstream.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The logical conclusion of this anti-humanist ideology is, depressingly, the <a href="http://www.vhemt.org/" target="_blank">Voluntary Human Extinction Movement</a> (Vhemt). According to its founder, activist Les Knight, Vhemt (pronounced “vehement”) is gaining steam. “In the last year,” Knight <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6599207/The-worldwide-crusade-people-choose-humanity-die-save-planet.html" target="_blank">told the <em>Daily Mail</em></a>, “I’ve seen more and more articles about people choosing to remain child-free or to not add more to their existing family than ever. I’ve been collecting these stories and last year was just a groundswell of articles, and, in addition, there have been articles about human extinction.”</p> <p></p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>These days, some on the far Left care less about the wellbeing of people than they do about making sure that people are never born at all.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Over 2000 new people have “liked” the movement’s Facebook page since January and, more importantly, the number of people fulfilling the movement’s goals (regardless of any affiliation with the movement itself) is growing. The U.S. birth rate is at an all-time low. According to <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_08-508.pdf" target="_blank">the latest figures</a> from the Center for Disease Control, the total U.S. fertility rate for 2017 was at an all-time low of 1.77 babies per woman (i.e., below the replacement rate of 2.1 babies per woman needed to maintain the current population).</p> <p>Recent examples of writings that are warming to the idea of human extinction include the <em>New Yorker</em>’s “<a href="https://www.newyorker.com/culture/persons-of-interest/the-case-for-not-being-born" target="_blank">The Case for Not Being Born</a>,” NBC News’ “<a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/science-proves-kids-are-bad-earth-morality-suggests-we-stop-ncna820781" target="_blank">Science proves kids are bad for Earth. Morality suggests we stop having them</a>,” and the <em>New York Times</em>’ “<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/17/opinion/human-extinction-climate-change.html" target="_blank">Would Human Extinction Be a Tragedy?</a>” which muses that, “It may well be, then, that the extinction of humanity would make the world better off.” Last month, the progressive magazine <em>FastCompany</em> released <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/video/why-having-kids-is-the-worst-thing-you-can-do-for-the-planet/jhlNGCfT" target="_blank">a disturbing video</a> entitled, “Why Having Kids Is the Worst Thing You Can Do for the Planet.”</p> <p>Some anti-natalists are not content with promoting the voluntary reduction of birth rates, and would prefer to hurry the process along with government intervention. Various prominent environmentalists, from <a href="https://www.npr.org/2016/08/18/479349760/should-we-be-having-kids-in-the-age-of-climate-change?t=1556305433731" target="_blank">Johns Hopkins University bioethicist Travis Rieder</a> to <a href="https://nypost.com/2017/04/26/bill-nye-should-we-penalize-parents-for-having-extra-kids/" target="_blank">science popularizer and entertainer Bill Nye</a>, support the introduction of special taxes or other state-imposed penalties for having “too many” children. In 2015, Bowdoin College’s Sarah Conly <a href="https://www.amazon.com/One-Child-Have-Right-More-dp-0190203439/dp/0190203439" target="_blank">published a book</a>advocating a “one-child” policy, like the one China abandoned following disastrous consequences including female infanticide and a destabilizing gender ratio of 120 boys per 100 girls, which left around 17 percent of China’s young men unable to find a Chinese wife. Even after that barbaric policy’s collapse, <a href="https://www2.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/10/31/here-why-china-one-child-policy-was-good-thing/GY4XiQLeYfAZ8e8Y7yFycI/story.html" target="_blank">she maintains</a> it was “a good thing.”</p> <p>Modern-day anti-humanism emerged in the 1970s, midwifed by a doomy strain of environmental pessimism led by Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich (but with intellectual antecedents dating back to Thomas Malthus in the eighteenth century). Ehrlich published his widely read polemic <a href="https://www.amazon.com/population-bomb-Paul-R-Ehrlich/dp/0345021711/" target="_blank"><em>The Population Bomb</em></a> in 1968, which originally opened with the lines, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”</p> <p>Thanks to human ingenuity in the form of the Green Revolution, that didn’t happen. The challenge of feeding a growing population led instead to technological innovation and that produced a solution: higher agricultural productivity and falling food prices. Far from leading to starvation, more humans exchanging ideas and innovating have ensured that the supply of food rose to meet growing demand. Ehrlich quietly removed his failed prognostication from subsequent editions of his book, but his ideas caught on among some strands of the environmentalist movement.</p> <p>Undeterred, Ehrlich and many likeminded doomsayers are still claiming that disaster is imminent, despite their previous predictions repeatedly failing to materialize. Just last year, Ehrlich compared human population growth to the spread of cancer, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/mar/22/collapse-civilisation-near-certain-decades-population-bomb-paul-ehrlich" target="_blank">informing the <em>Guardian</em></a>, “It is a near certainty in the next few decades, and the risk is increasing continually as long as perpetual growth of the human enterprise remains the goal of economic and political systems … As I’ve said many times, ‘perpetual growth is the creed of the cancer cell.’”</p> <p>Once anti-humanism had infected the environmental movement, it soon spread through the political Left. Robert Zubrin’s book <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Merchants-Despair-Environmentalists-Pseudo-Scientists-Antihumanism/dp/159403737X" target="_blank"><em>Merchants of Despair</em></a> gives an overview of the Left’s reversal of its traditional commitment to advancing the human condition, in favor of a project that viewed humanity as a plague upon the Earth:</p> </div> , <blockquote class="blockquote"> <div> <p>Instead of The Grapes of Wrath, they carried copies of The Population Bomb … Instead of “Stop the War,” their buttons read “Stop at two” [children]; instead of “Power to the people,” their slogan was “People pollute.”</p> </div> </blockquote> <cite> </cite> , <div class="text-default"> <p>These environmentally-concerned anti-natalists believe that a world without humans, or with significantly fewer of them, would eventually revert to a pollution-free paradise with abundant natural resources. As one human extinction proponent put it just last month in a <a href="https://www.peninsuladailynews.com/letters/letter-human-extinction-would-give-planet-time-to-heal/" target="_blank">letter to his local paper</a>, “In approximately 20,000 years after human extinction, this magnificent resistant biosphere will return to its perfection.” If humanity fails to reduce its numbers, extinction proponents fear resource shortages and environmental catastrophe. “How could anybody,” an official Vhemt member, Gwynn Mackellen, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/20/give-up-having-children-couples-save-planet-climate-crisis" target="_blank">wondered aloud to the <em>Guardian</em></a>, “produce a new human when the effects of humans are very obvious, I feel, and the situation is getting worse.”</p> <p>These extinction advocates, however, have misunderstood the evidence about population growth’s impact on the planet and its resources. The late University of Maryland economist Julian Simon rejected the idea of overpopulation as a problem. He believed that, on the contrary, more people in the world means more people to solve problems, and less resource scarcity. “There is no physical or economic reason,” he wrote, “why human resourcefulness and enterprise cannot forever continue to respond to impending shortages and existing problems with new expedients that, after an adjustment period, leave us better off than before the problem arose.”</p> <p>In his 1981 book <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Resource-Julian-Lincoln-Simon/dp/069109389X/" target="_blank"><em>The Ultimate Resource</em></a>, Simon argued that humans are intelligent beings, capable of innovating their way out of shortages through greater efficiency, increased supply, or development of substitutes. Humans, with their inventive potential, are themselves, in Simon’s phrase, “The Ultimate Resource.” A growing population produces more ideas. More ideas lead to more innovations and more innovations can improve productivity. That higher productivity then translates into more resources to go around and better standards of living.</p> <p>In 1980, Simon made a bet with Ehrlich. Ehrlich would choose a “basket” of raw materials that he expected to become more scarce in the coming years. At the end of a specified time period, if the inflation-adjusted price of the basket was higher than at the beginning of the period, that would indicate the materials had indeed become scarcer and Ehrlich would win the wager; if the price was lower, that would mean the resources had instead become more abundant, and Simon would win. The stakes would be the ultimate price difference of the basket at the beginning and end of the time period. Simon ultimately won, and Ehrlich duly sent him a check for the price difference.</p> <p><a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/simon-abundance-index-new-way-measure-availability-resources" target="_blank">New research</a>, inspired by the Ehrlich-Simon wager, has further confirmed that, contrary to the anti-humanists’ claims, population growth goes hand-in-hand with more abundant resources. Consider the amount of time it takes an average worker to earn enough to buy a basket of common commodities—the “time-price” of those items. The Simon Abundance Index found that between 1980 and 2017, “the time-price of our basket of 50 basic commodities declined by 0.934 percent for every one percent increase in population. That means that every additional human being born on our planet seems to be making resources proportionately more plentiful for the rest of us.”</p> <p>There are some notable environmentalists who recognize the fact that humans are capable of creating abundance instead of scarcity. Environmentalists who take the rational and techno-optimistic view, sometimes called “enlightenment environmentalists” or “ecomodernists,” still believe in humanity’s ability to tackle environmental problems with innovation and ingenuity. Examples include Harvard University’s Steven Pinker and the Breakthrough Institute’s Michael Shellenberger, who both hold that technologies such as nuclear power can reduce emissions. And the research of Rockefeller University environmental science professor Jesse H. Ausubel, who was integral to setting up the world’s first climate change conference in Geneva in 1979, has shown how technological progress can <a href="https://phe.rockefeller.edu/docs/Nature_Rebounds.pdf" target="_blank">allow nature to rebound</a>, even while food and other resources have become more plentiful.</p> <p>Unfortunately, ecomodernists are still a minority within the environmental movement. Too many people, mostly on the political Left, still agree with Ehrlich that humans are analogous to cancer cells and long for the reduction or even extinction of our species. One third of Americans in the millennial generation say <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/millennials-americans-worry-about-kids-children-climate-change-poll-2019-3?r=US&amp;IR=T" target="_blank">they are deeply concerned</a> about the environmental impact of having children. Not that long ago, well within the living memory of a millennial such as myself, a 2002 episode of Aaron Sorkin’s popular political drama <em>The West Wing</em> could still quip that “Death is bad” remained a left-wing position. The scriptwriter took it for granted that, on the political Left, everyone is in favor of human flourishing. If only that were still the case.</p> </div> Wed, 01 May 2019 08:42:00 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/how-anti-humanism-conquered-left Why Lower Birthrates Aren't Always Worth Celebrating https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/why-lower-birthrates-arent-always-worth-celebrating Chelsea Follett <div class="lead text-default"> <p>Easter is almost upon us. Traditionally, Easter is a celebration of new life and fertility, replete with rabbit imagery — a symbol of fecundity. Both globally and in the United States, birth rates are falling, and there is considerable debate as to whether that is a good or bad thing.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>On one side of the argument are overpopulation alarmists, urging people to have fewer children. Generally, they believe that declining birth rates are a good thing, particularly from an environmental perspective.</p> <p>The overpopulation alarmists are wrong.</p> <p>Their views are certainly in vogue. Earlier this month, HBO host Bill Maher said, “I can’t think of a better gift to our planet than pumping out fewer humans to destroy it,” and he claimed that the world is “too crowded.”</p> <p>He is not alone in that belief. More than a third of U.S. millennials worry about the environmental effect of childbearing, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who recently questioned the ethics of producing more children.</p> <p></p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>The more new people in the world engaging in cooperative exchange and putting their minds toward solving problems — including environmental problems — the better off we will all be.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Some anti-natalists even call for government action to make birth rates fall even faster than they already do. Many prominent environmentalists — from Johns Hopkins University bioethicist Travis Rieder to entertainer Bill Nye “The Science Guy” — support tax penalties or other state-imposed punishments for having “too many” children. Bowdoin College’s Sarah Conly wrote a recent book advocating a “one-child” policy — like the one China once had and had to abandon.</p> <p>These alarmists see a population decrease as an urgent necessity, primarily because they believe that population growth leads to resource depletion. But new research, inspired by the famous wager between economist Julian Simon and biologist Paul Erhlich, has found just the opposite. Consider the amount of time it takes a typical worker to earn enough money to buy commodities — the “time price” of those items, so to speak.</p> <p>The recently published “Simon Abundance Index” found that, for each 1 percent increase in the world’s population, the average time price of 50 commonly used commodities declined by 0.934 percent. In other words, for each 1 percent increase in population, the cost of commodities has fallen by almost 1 percent. Each child born today eventually grows up to make resources less scarce, on average, by contributing to innovation and the global economy.</p> <p>So, worrying about overpopulation makes little sense. Moreover, fertility rates are falling already.</p> <p>In developing countries, falling fertility rates are driven by fewer infant and childhood deaths, allowing for smaller family sizes. More women in education and the workforce also result in lower birth rates. In developed countries, unrealistic social and cultural parenting expectations are making childbearing more burdensome than was the case for previous generations.</p> <p>Economist Bryan Caplan, for example, has argued that, in the United States, parents overestimate the work needed to be a successful parent and have fewer children than they otherwise would have as a result of that misconception.</p> <p>It is also true that the education, child care and health care sectors have been heavily distorted by government over-regulation, such as the District of Columbia’s ridiculous mandate that child care workers hold college degrees — making child rearing more expensive.</p> <p>In fact, falling fertility rates could have far-reaching negative economic consequences, as countries face aging and the working population shrinks. With fewer people to innovate, the pace of progress could slow down. As the authors of the “Simon Index” noted, “In addition to more labor, a growing population produces more ideas. More ideas lead to more innovations, and more innovations improve productivity. Finally, higher productivity translates to better standards of living.”</p> <p>And the more new people in the world engaging in cooperative exchange and putting their minds toward solving problems — including environmental problems — the better off we will all be. Because, as Julian Simon put it, human beings truly are the ultimate resource. Whatever problems we face in the future, it is human ingenuity that will need to rise to the occasion.</p> </div> Thu, 18 Apr 2019 08:27:00 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/why-lower-birthrates-arent-always-worth-celebrating What the Data Say About Equal Pay Day https://www.cato.org/blog/what-data-say-about-equal-pay-day Chelsea Follett <p>This week saw the passing of “Equal Pay Day,” which marks the culmination of the roughly three extra months that an average female employee had to work in 2019 to match the amount of money made by an average male worker in 2018. Many people see the pay gap as unjust, but is it really a result of rampant sexism in the workplace as the critics <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=113&amp;v=SLn7TzXuB5A">allege</a>?&#13;<br /> &#13;<br /> A <a href="https://www.surveymonkey.com/curiosity/cnbc-workplace-happiness-index/">survey</a> unveiled on Tuesday by CNBC and Survey Monkey suggests that, actually, both men and women are equally pleased with their employment situations and the earnings gap can largely be explained by women being more likely on average to choose part-time work.&#13;<br /> &#13;<br /> “Men have a Workplace Happiness Index score of 72 and women a score of 70, close enough to lack a statistically meaningful difference,” <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/02/equal-pay-day-men-and-women-equally-happy-with-jobs-but-not-pay.html">according</a> to the newly released data. That fits with earlier polling that was conducted by Cato’s Dr. Emily Ekins, which <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/equal-pay-day-surprising-gender-pay-gap-opinions-held-women">found</a> that in the United States, the vast majority of women “believe their own employers treat men and women equally.” Fully 86 percent of women polled believed that their employer pays women equally.&#13;<br /> &#13;<br /> There is still a pay gap between men and women who work full-time, but that may be partly due to men and women opting to work in different fields. Dangerous jobs in fields like mining and fishing, for example, tend to attract men. Those jobs also tend to be relatively well-remunerated. (As HumanProgress.org advisory board member Mark Perry points out, the gender gap in workplace deaths far <a href="https://www.aei.org/publication/equal-pay-day-this-year-is-april-2-the-next-equal-occupational-fatality-day-is-on-may-3-2030/">exceeds</a> the gap in pay).&#13;<br /> &#13;<br /> Even so, among full-time workers, the “pay gap” is rapidly narrowing. Data from the OECD <a href="https://humanprogress.org/dwline?p=708&amp;c0=2&amp;yf=1970&amp;yl=2015&amp;high=0&amp;reg=3&amp;reg1=0">shows</a> that the gender wage gap in median earnings of full-time employees is declining in practically all countries for which there are data. In the United States, highlighted in blue in the graph below, the wage gap has fallen dramatically since the 1970s. In 1975, the U.S. gender wage gap was 38 percent. By 2015, it had shrunk to 18 percent.&#13;<br /> &#13;</p> <div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.blog_post" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="657eb361-2d28-41f8-bcf0-7d7d4f40a3ca" data-langcode="und" class="embedded-entity"> <p><img srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/wp-content/uploads/genderpaygap.png?itok=ixHVh7f2 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/wp-content/uploads/genderpaygap.png?itok=oe9F81JY 1.5x" width="700" height="416" src="https://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/wp-content/uploads/genderpaygap.png?itok=ixHVh7f2" alt="Media Name: genderpaygap.png" typeof="Image" class="component-image" /></p></div> <p>That 18 percentage point difference does not take into account important characteristics like “age, education, years of experience, job title, employer, and location,” <a href="https://www.cato.org/blog/equal-pay-day-should-be-january">according</a> to my Cato colleague Vanessa Calder. A recent <a href="https://research-content.glassdoor.com/app/uploads/sites/2/2016/03/Glassdoor-Gender-Pay-Gap-Study.pdf">study</a>, which controlled for those characteristics, concluded that the U.S. gender pay gap is only around five percent, meaning that Equal Pay Day should actually be in January.&#13;<br /> &#13;<br /> Of course, if any of that small remaining five percent gap is the result of sexist discrimination—rather than additional mitigating factors that the study failed to control for—then that is unacceptable. We should denounce all forms of inequitable treatment, wherever it persists. We should also take a clear-eyed view of the data and recognize the remarkable gains women have made in the workplace—and how labor market participation has <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/how-markets-empower-women-innovation-market-participation-transform">transformed</a> women’s lives for the better.</p> Fri, 05 Apr 2019 15:03:00 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/blog/what-data-say-about-equal-pay-day Human Progress Saved My Baby, and Will Save Many More https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/human-progress-saved-baby-will-save-many-more Chelsea Follett <div class="lead text-default"> <p>“Her heart rate is decelerating with each contraction,” explained the doctor to my husband and me, a grave expression on her face, “and we just saw a major deceleration.” We were rushed into the surgery room for an emergency cesarean section, and just minutes later, we met our first child.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>She was alive, beautiful, and screaming her lungs out.</p> <p>After the C-section, we learned the reason for the heartrate decelerations: her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, like a noose, four times. We were told the hospital’s record was five. The technical term for her condition was “quadruple nuchal cord.” Were it not for the emergency C-section, she almost certainly would have asphyxiated during delivery and been stillborn.</p> <p></p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>No mother, anywhere in the world, should ever have to lose a child — and thanks to the global decline of poverty and spread of medical technology, fewer do.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>The specifics of my daughter’s situation may have been unusual, but her survival is an example of a broader trend. Thanks to medical advances, the global rate of stillbirth per 1,000 births has <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214109X15002752 " target="_blank">fallen</a> from 24 in the year 2000 to 18 in 2015, with decreases seen in all regions of the world. In my daughter’s case, for example, those advances included external monitoring of the fetal heart rate during labor and a cesarean delivery.</p> <p>Not only has there been progress in reducing stillbirths, but more and more children survive to see their first birthday. The global infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births fell from 65 in 1990 to less than 30 in 2017, according the <a href="https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.IMRT.IN" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.IMRT.IN&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1554300166392000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEPcVlnt6KD8Gt0XAhpYGQTumxEgg" data-cms-ai="0 " target="_blank">World Bank</a>.</p> <p>Access to stillbirth-preventing technology, as well as improvements in nutrition and sanitation that decrease infant mortality, are made easier by the spread of economic development around the world. The greatest improvements in infant health have taken place in developing countries as poverty declines and standards of living rise.</p> <p>To understand just how important prosperity is, consider the difference between falling stillbirth rates, which depend on the latest and thus very expensive technology, and falling infant death rates, which are connected to overall economic improvements in developing countries. </p> <p>Poor countries suffer far more stillbirths than rich countries, both in absolute terms and adjusted for population, although the rate is decreasing in both. Using data spanning 1990 to 2010, researchers have <a href="https://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S2214109X15002752-gr2.jpg" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S2214109X15002752-gr2.jpg&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1554300166392000&amp;usg=AFQjCNEf4M9i4X0v5O8M538oUEzIJj8UqQ" data-cms-ai="0 " target="_blank">estimated</a> that more than 40 percent of global stillbirths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s poorest region. In fact, 98 percent of the world’s stillbirths occur in low-income and middle-income countries. Less than 2 percent occur in developed regions.</p> <p>In contrast, when it comes to infant mortality rates, sub-Saharan Africa and other poor areas of the world have seen faster progress than rich countries. Like the stillbirth rate, the infant mortality rate remains far <a href="https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.IMRT.IN?locations=ZG-US" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.IMRT.IN?locations%3DZG-US&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1554300166392000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGLN6B1Gku6k66MYvgN-NDlmbqrQQ" data-cms-ai="0 " target="_blank">higher</a> in poor countries than in rich ones. In 2017, it was more than 50 per 1,000 live births in impoverished sub-Saharan Africa, compared with less than six in the wealthy United States.</p> <p>However, as extreme poverty becomes more rare, living standards rise, and small changes in sanitation and nutrition exert a dramatic effect on infant health. Sub-Saharan Africa has more than halved its infant mortality rate since 1990. In East Asia, which saw a rapid decline in poverty following economic liberalization, infant mortality fell by a staggering 70 percent.</p> <p>Overall, children’s odds of survival have improved, but much work remains to be done. Even in wealthy countries like the United States, there are still parents who lose their children to stillbirth or in the first year of life.</p> <p>“After my daughter died from her knotted cord wrapped around her neck three times, I heard so many stories of other friends of friends where something similar had happened,” one woman <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/health/stillbirth-reader-stories.html" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/health/stillbirth-reader-stories.html&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1554300166392000&amp;usg=AFQjCNErSMh4LDVxHoNEqypvGYL_AXbCeA" data-cms-ai="0 " target="_blank">told</a> the New York Times. “I know my friends were trying to offer support, but hearing of so many other people who had suffered as I did was not a comfort. It was a further sorrow.”</p> <p>If hearing of other stillbirths only compounded her pain, it might be of some small comfort to her to know that fewer and fewer people suffer the loss of a child each year. As better monitoring devices and other technologies spread to more medical facilities, and as surgical techniques improve, birth continues to become a safer endeavor for mothers and children. As prosperity spreads throughout the world, more children live to see their first birthday and beyond.</p> <p>Today, my daughter is a healthy, happy, cuddly three-month-old infant. I am forever grateful for the skilled physicians who saved my daughter’s life using modern technology. No mother, anywhere in the world, should ever have to lose a child — and thanks to the global decline of poverty and spread of medical technology, fewer do.</p> </div> Wed, 03 Apr 2019 11:35:00 -0400 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/human-progress-saved-baby-will-save-many-more How Markets Empower Women: Innovation and Market Participation Transform Women’s Lives for the Better https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/how-markets-empower-women-innovation-market-participation-transform Chelsea Follett <div class="lead text-default"> <p>Over the last 200 years, economic progress has helped to bring about both dramatically better standards of living and the extension of individual dignity to women in the developed world. Today the same story of market-driven empowerment is repeating itself in developing countries.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Competitive markets empower women in at least two interrelated ways. First, market-driven technological and scientific innovations disproportionately benefit women. Timesaving household devices, for example, help women in particular because they typically perform the majority of housework. Healthcare advances reduce maternal and infant mortality rates, allowing for smaller family sizes and expansion of women’s life options. Second, labor market participation offers women economic independence and increased bargaining power in society. Factory work, despite its poor reputation, has proven particularly important in that regard.</p> <p>In these ways, markets heighten women’s material standard of living and foster cultural change. Markets promote individual empowerment, reducing sexism and other forms of collective prejudice.</p> <p>Women’s empowerment in many developing countries is in its early phases, but the right policies can set women everywhere on a path toward the same prosperity and freedom enjoyed by women in today’s advanced countries.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <h2>Introduction </h2> <p>Women’s empowerment and gender equality have become mainstream aspects of international development discourse.<sup><a id="endnote-001-backlink" href="#endnote-001">1</a></sup> Markets help achieve those goals. Markets played a vital role in empowering the women of the West historically and continue to empower increasing numbers of women around the world today.</p> <p>A review of the development literature suggests that “gender inequality declines as poverty declines, so the condition of women improves more than that of men with development.”<sup><a id="endnote-002-backlink" href="#endnote-002">2</a></sup> In other words, women stand to gain more from prosperity than men.</p> <p>Markets empower women in at least two interrelated ways. First, markets have produced timesaving and health-related innovations that have disproportionately benefited women. Second, labor market participation offers women economic independence and heightened bargaining power. These modes of empowerment reinforce each other.</p> <p>Laborsaving innovations shifted the traditionally female burden of housework onto machines, freeing women’s time. Medical advances provided by free enterprise have lengthened women’s lives and increased their children’s likelihood of survival, allowing for smaller family sizes. As a result, women have more time to pursue their ambitions: more life years, and more years for activities other than childrearing. They also have more time for leisure, making their lives more pleasant.</p> <p>Labor market participation, in which firms compete for women’s labor, allows women to accumulate money and increase their bargaining power both in society and in their households. Such participation also speeds economic growth and innovation in a virtuous cycle by creating a larger labor force.<sup><a id="endnote-003-backlink" href="#endnote-003">3</a></sup> Traditionally, the coercive power of the state, being primarily an expression of male preferences, often obstructed women’s labor market participation, limiting their activities to prescribed roles. Today, a growing number of women are free to make their own choices regarding family and career.</p> <h2>Innovation</h2> <p>Market-driven innovations have had a positive effect on women’s lives. Medical innovations, and health improvements financed by the unprecedented prosperity generated by free enterprise and industrialization, have improved women’s overall health, including life expectancy, and impacted their fertility. Laborsaving technology has lessened women’s time spent doing household chores, such as cooking and laundry. Positive change is not limited to the past but is ongoing in developing countries today.</p> <h3>Market-Driven Health Improvements</h3> <p>Living conditions remained remarkably constant throughout most of history: poverty was ubiquitous. Then, around 200 years ago, economic growth started to accelerate, first in Great Britain and the Netherlands, then the rest of Western Europe and North America, and finally the rest of the world. Markets globalized in the 19th century, and the Industrial Revolution took productivity to new heights, causing the acceleration in economic growth and ultimately leading to widespread prosperity.</p> <p>Similarly, human life expectancy — arguably the best overall measure of health — remained relatively flat throughout history until the late 1800s, when it began to rise.<sup><a id="endnote-004-backlink" href="#endnote-004">4</a></sup> This “health transition” started in Europe and North America in the 1870s, and then spread to the rest of the world.</p> <p>These striking improvements in income and health are related. Ample literature shows that, on average, people in wealthier countries outlive those in poorer countries, a relationship known as the Preston curve.<sup><a id="endnote-005-backlink" href="#endnote-005">5</a></sup> While the strong correlation does not <em>necessarily</em> prove that higher income causes better health, it does show that “income <em>must </em>be important in some ways and at some times” to the improvement of health, according to Nobel Prize–winning economist Angus Deaton.<sup><a id="endnote-006-backlink" href="#endnote-006">6</a></sup></p> <p>As income grows, it pays for improved diets, housing, sanitation, and medicine, all of which affect health. Deaton attributes the rise in life expectancy primarily to innovations in urban sanitation and the discovery of the germ theory of disease, noting that the unprecedented wealth generated by the Industrial Revolution funded the construction of safe water supplies and sewage systems at a scale never before achieved.<sup><a id="endnote-007-backlink" href="#endnote-007">7</a></sup> That decreased the rate of infant deaths in particular. As important as scientific advances were, it was rising market-driven prosperity that financed the public-health projects inspired by newfound scientific knowledge. “Turning the germ theory into safe water and sanitation . . . requires . . . money,” Deaton notes.<sup><a id="endnote-008-backlink" href="#endnote-008">8</a></sup></p> <p>It is true that the rapid urbanization during the Industrial Revolution initially raised the mortality rate because disease spreads more easily in concentrated populations without proper sanitation. However, since the 1870s the urban mortality rate has declined faster than the rural rate in the United States.<sup><a id="endnote-009-backlink" href="#endnote-009">9</a></sup> City dwellers typically have higher incomes than their rural counterparts and better access to modern medicine. During the Industrial Revolution, some factories even offered their workers free vaccinations.<sup><a id="endnote-010-backlink" href="#endnote-010">10</a></sup></p> <p>Importantly, “all of the health transitions in all countries have been achieved since capitalism began,” and specific health-improving innovations such as vaccines “must at least in part be due to the conditions created by capitalism,” argues philosopher Ann E. Cudd of Boston University.<sup><a id="endnote-011-backlink" href="#endnote-011">11</a></sup> Major improvements in longevity first occurred in rich countries only after the Industrial Revolution and advent of global trade accelerated economic growth. Even more rapid progress can be observed in developing countries today, as poor countries can adopt institutions and technologies from rich countries to hasten their progress in both economic development and health.</p> <p><strong>Women’s Health and Fertility in Historical Perspective.</strong> Health advances that the market helped enable have benefited women even more than men. Consider the history of women’s health.</p> <p>The average hunter-gatherer woman probably had about four children, with typical intervals of four years between each child.<sup><a id="endnote-012-backlink" href="#endnote-012">12</a></sup> That represents low fertility by the standards of the poorest countries today; prehistoric women’s high levels of physical exertion likely decreased the probability of conception.<sup><a id="endnote-013-backlink" href="#endnote-013">13</a></sup> Paleopathologists estimate about 20 percent of children died before their first birthday.<sup><a id="endnote-014-backlink" href="#endnote-014">14</a></sup> “Life expectancy at birth among hunter-gatherers was 20–30 years depending on local conditions,” according to Deaton.<sup><a id="endnote-015-backlink" href="#endnote-015">15</a></sup></p> <p>After agriculture’s invention, many people stopped living nomadically and built permanent settlements. Quality of life may have deteriorated for women, who went through more childbirths (which were dangerous) and saw more of their children die than their ancestors did because permanent settlements without proper waste disposal are a breeding ground for disease.<sup><a id="endnote-016-backlink" href="#endnote-016">16</a></sup></p> <p>By the year 1800, the typical U.S. woman bore seven children.<sup><a id="endnote-017-backlink" href="#endnote-017">17</a></sup> On average, only four would survive to see their fifth birthday. The other three typically died from ailments that are easily preventable or curable today.</p> <p>Yet by the 20th century women outlived men.<sup><a id="endnote-018-backlink" href="#endnote-018">18</a></sup> As Figure 1 shows, the average number of a woman’s children that she had to bury fell from three in 1800 to two in 1850 and one in 1900.</p> <p><strong>Figure 1: Survival of children per woman in the United States, 1800–2015</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="0b6b1dc9-f839-464a-8df4-ee226da78518" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="562" alt="Media Name: pa-859-figure-1.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-1.png?itok=Hbb2oPgj 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-1.png?itok=_HCA77qE 1.5x" data-src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-1.png?itok=Hbb2oPgj" typeof="Image" /></div> <p><strong>Source:</strong> Max Roser, “Children that Died before 5 Years of Age per Woman (based on Gapminder), Children that Survived Past Their 5th Birthday per Woman,” Our World in Data, <a href="https://ourworldindata.org/child-mortality/%23how-many-children-did-a-woman-give-birth-to-that-died-before-their-5th-birthday">https://ourworldindata.org/child-mortality/#how-many-children-did-a-woman-give-birth-to-that-died-before-their-5th-birthday</a>.</p> <p>The average U.S. woman today has two children and sees both survive to adulthood. Most families today have fewer children in part because they are confident that every child they bring into the world will live.</p> <p>Not only do women have fewer and healthier children, but childbirth has become safer for mothers. Data for Sweden and Finland dating back to 1751 paint a grim picture: around 1,000 maternal deaths for every 100,000 births (see Figure 2). If a woman gave birth seven times, that entailed a 7 percent chance of her death in childbirth. At the time, the British colonies that would become the United States were poorer than Sweden and Finland and probably had an even higher maternal mortality rate.</p> <p><strong>Figure 2: Maternal mortality rate in selected countries, deaths per 100,000 births, 1751–2008</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="4e763b05-e6ad-4d32-b85b-c246862dc087" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="523" alt="Media Name: pa-859-figure-2.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-2.png?itok=voO9eSl9 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-2.png?itok=07k9xap6 1.5x" data-src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-2.png?itok=voO9eSl9" typeof="Image" /></div> <p><strong>Source:</strong> Hans Rosling, “Maternal Mortality Ratio,” Gapminder, <a href="http://www.gapminder.org/data/documentation/gd010/">http://www.gapminder.org/data/documentation/gd010/</a>.</p> <p>In 1900, the U.S. rate of maternal death in childbirth was more than 800 per 100,000 births. Steven Pinker of Harvard University has noted, “for an American woman, being pregnant a century ago was almost as dangerous as having breast cancer today.”<sup><a id="endnote-019-backlink" href="#endnote-019">19</a></sup> After a brief spike in 1918 during the practice of questionable medical techniques, the rate plummeted.<sup><a id="endnote-020-backlink" href="#endnote-020">20</a></sup> “[T]he reduction in maternal mortality in twentieth century America is one reason why women’s life expectancy has risen faster than men’s,” according to Deaton.<sup><a id="endnote-021-backlink" href="#endnote-021">21</a></sup> Today, U.S. women rarely die in the delivery room.</p> <p>As Figure 3 shows, a typical 20-year-old woman in the United States today can expect to live for more than 60 additional years. That is about 18 more years of life than a 20-year-old U.S. woman could expect two centuries ago.</p> <p><strong>Figure 3: A 20-year-old U.S. woman’s average years of remaining life, 1795–2013</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="eddfc841-8800-409b-87b5-a87d6c52db43" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="549" alt="Media Name: pa-859-figure-3.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-3.png?itok=0LNCmWZA 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-3.png?itok=gJLoGUZ- 1.5x" data-src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-3.png?itok=0LNCmWZA" typeof="Image" /></div> <p><strong>Source:</strong> Michael R. Haines and Richard H. Steckel, eds., <em>A Population History of North America</em> (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); E. Arias, M. Heron, and J. Xu, “United States Life Tables, 2013,” National vital statistics reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, <em>National Vital Statistics System</em> 66.3 (2017): 1; Clayne L. Pope “Adult Mortality in America before 1900: A View from Family Histories” in <em>Strategic Factors in Nineteenth Century American Economic History: A Volume to Honor Robert W. Fogel</em> (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008); and Kent Kunze, “The Effects of Age Composition and Changes in Vital Rates on Nineteenth Century Population Estimates from New Data,” (PhD diss., Department of Economics, University of Utah, 1979).</p> <p>The same progress is now unfolding in developing countries.</p> <p><strong>Women’s Health and Fertility in Developing Countries.</strong> Practically everywhere, women outlive men and the number of children per woman has decreased. As people escape poverty throughout the world, their children are more likely to survive, allowing for smaller families — a phenomenon called the fertility transition.</p> <p>It is almost unheard of for a country to maintain a high fertility rate after it passes about $5,000 in per person annual income.<sup><a id="endnote-022-backlink" href="#endnote-022">22</a></sup> “The average Bangladeshi woman can now expect to have about the same number of children as the average Frenchwoman,” observed <em>The </em>Economist in 2016, and even in Africa, the poorest continent, fertility rates are falling.<sup><a id="endnote-023-backlink" href="#endnote-023">23</a></sup> In the very poorest countries, women often have more children than they say they want, but having more children than desired may be a strategy adopted in reaction to higher rates of child mortality: if a woman wants two children but has reason to believe that half of her children will die in infancy, she may plan to have four children rather than two. For example, the average Nigerian still expects to have about three more children than she ultimately desires.<sup><a id="endnote-024-backlink" href="#endnote-024">24</a></sup> As children’s odds of survival improve, such an insurance strategy becomes unnecessary.</p> <p>Smaller family sizes have freed women’s time, enabling mothers to devote more attention to each individual child, further decreasing an infant’s chance of death, while allowing women to take on pursuits such as paid employment. In developing countries today, women’s rising educational attainment and earning power boost their children’s probability of survival still further.<sup><a id="endnote-025-backlink" href="#endnote-025">25</a></sup></p> <p>Death in childbirth has become rarer practically everywhere on Earth, even in developing countries. As can be seen in Figure 2, in a few decades Malaysia made the same progress against death in childbirth that the currently rich countries took multiple centuries to achieve. Malaysia’s case is not unusual.</p> <p>“That India today has higher life expectancy than Scotland in 1945 — in spite of per capita income that Britain had achieved as early as 1860 — is a testament to the power of knowledge to short-circuit history,” argues Deaton.<sup><a id="endnote-026-backlink" href="#endnote-026">26</a></sup> Today, progress is ongoing, as piped water, improved sanitation facilities, vaccinations, and other health innovations spread throughout developing countries.</p> <p>In sum, the unprecedented rise in prosperity, medical understanding, and innovation over the last two centuries has bettered women’s health dramatically and continues to do so in poor countries today. Innovations created in rich countries are being adopted by poor countries, enabling them to achieve better health outcomes more quickly.</p> <h3>Cooking: Full-Time Job to Hobby</h3> <p>As with medical advancements, technological innovations have further advanced opportunities for today’s women. Cooking has traditionally fallen to women, and so timesaving and laborsaving kitchen devices primarily benefit women. Over time, markets have brought about and lowered the cost of such innovations as microwaves, convection ovens, ranges, grills, toasters, blenders, food processors, slow cookers, and other laborsaving kitchen devices.<sup><a id="endnote-027-backlink" href="#endnote-027">27</a></sup> Markets have also given more women more access to ready-made foodstuffs, so each dish does not have to be prepared entirely from scratch. Thanks to such advancements, cooking has changed from a necessary, labor-intensive task to an optional and recreational activity in rich countries, and that transition is ongoing in the developing countries.</p> <p><strong>Women’s Escape from the Kitchen in the United States.</strong> “In 1900 a typical American household of the middle class would spend 44 hours [a week] in food preparation,” according to economist Stanley Lebergott of Wesleyan University.<sup><a id="endnote-028-backlink" href="#endnote-028">28</a></sup> Most of that work fell to women. In other words, back in the days of churning one’s own butter and baking one’s own bread, food preparation consumed as much time as a full-time job. In addition to cooking, women were also often responsible for cleaning the home, washing laundry and hanging it out to dry, sewing and mending clothes, and tending to children.</p> <p>In 1910, Lebergott estimates that U.S. households spent approximately six hours daily cooking meals, including cleanup. By the mid-1960s, that had fallen to 1.5 hours.<sup><a id="endnote-029-backlink" href="#endnote-029">29</a></sup></p> <p>By 2008, the average low-income American spent just over an hour on food preparation each day and the average high-income American spent slightly less than an hour daily.<sup><a id="endnote-030-backlink" href="#endnote-030">30</a></sup> Disaggregating the data by gender reveals even more progress for women. In the United States, from the mid-1960s to 2008, women more than halved the amount of time they spent on food preparation, whereas men nearly doubled time spent on that activity, as household labor distributions became more equitable between genders.</p> <p>Mass production of everyday foodstuffs assisted this transformation of women’s time. In 1890, 90 percent of American women baked their own bread.<sup><a id="endnote-031-backlink" href="#endnote-031">31</a></sup> Missouri’s Chillicothe Baking Company started offering the luxury of factory-baked, <em>presliced</em> bread in 1928, and other companies soon offered competing products. By 1965, 78 out of every 100 pounds of flour a U.S. woman brought into her kitchen came in the form of baked bread or some other ready-prepared good.<sup><a id="endnote-032-backlink" href="#endnote-032">32</a></sup> Today, baking one’s own bread in the United States is a hobby, rather than a necessary routine.</p> <p>Markets have even produced grocery delivery services that bring food to one’s door with the tap of a smartphone application. Market processes also lowered the cost of dining out, and today Americans spend more money dining out than eating in.<sup><a id="endnote-033-backlink" href="#endnote-033">33</a></sup></p> <p><strong>Ongoing Escape from the Kitchen in Developing Countries.</strong> The liberation of women from hours upon hours in the kitchen is ongoing, as technological devices and mass-produced goods spread to new parts of the globe. Worldwide, as many as 55 percent of households still cook entirely from raw ingredients at least once a week. In China, that number is as high as 71 percent.<sup><a id="endnote-034-backlink" href="#endnote-034">34</a></sup></p> <p>A 2015 survey found that average hours spent cooking are as high as 13.2 hours per week in India, and 8.3 hours in Indonesia, compared to 5.9 hours in the United States.<sup><a id="endnote-035-backlink" href="#endnote-035">35</a></sup> That is only <em>among those who regularly cook</em>. If a higher percentage of Indians than Americans engage in that activity, it is likely that the actual disparity between the two countries’ average hours devoted to food preparation is larger.</p> <p>While a gap in time spent on food preparation remains between rich and poor countries, today even in India — the poorest country surveyed, and the one with the highest reported average food preparation hours — women devote almost 31 fewer hours to food preparation per week than U.S. women did in 1900. Even allowing for compatibility problems in comparing those figures (the estimate for 1900 included cleanup time, whereas the Indian women surveyed in 2015 were not asked to include cleanup time and so may have excluded time spent on cleanup in their answers), the sheer size of this difference suggests some degree of improvement. A separate survey of Chinese households found that average time spent on food preparation by women declined from more than 5 hours per day in 1989 to 1.2 hours in 2011 (see Figure 4).</p> <p><strong>Figure 4: Time spent on food preparation by Chinese women, hours per day, 1989–2011</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="9826c058-d773-4e9c-a7df-43853a74094b" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="494" alt="Media Name: pa-859-figure-4.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-4.png?itok=XVL0VC2Z 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-4.png?itok=dC0vthWj 1.5x" data-src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-4.png?itok=XVL0VC2Z" typeof="Image" /></div> <p><strong>Source:</strong> “China Health and Nutrition Survey,” University of North Carolina Population Center, <a href="http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/china">http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/china</a>.</p> <p>Much room for improvement remains. In 2017, only 0.5 percent of Chinese households and 1.8 percent of Indian households had a dishwasher, compared to 71 percent of U.S. households.<sup><a id="endnote-036-backlink" href="#endnote-036">36</a></sup> In 2017, 42 percent of Chinese households and just 17 percent of Indian households had a microwave, compared to 96 percent of U.S. households. Euromonitor’s Passport Global Market Information Database holds that only 32 percent of Indian households had a refrigerator in 2017.<sup><a id="endnote-037-backlink" href="#endnote-037">37</a></sup></p> <p>As prosperity spreads and poverty declines, kitchen gadgets and ready-made goods will free up more hours of women’s food preparation time around the world. Other innovations will similarly free women from other time-consuming tasks, such as laundry.</p> <h3>Washing: a Full Day to an Hour a Week</h3> <p>Economist Ha-Joon Chang at the University of Cambridge has argued that “the laundry machine has changed the world more than the internet has,” and for women, that may be true.<sup><a id="endnote-038-backlink" href="#endnote-038">38</a></sup> Market innovations ranging from the invention of detergent to ever-more-helpful laundry and drying machines transformed the chore of laundry from a dreadful undertaking to a minor inconvenience in the rich countries. Today, that story is ongoing throughout the developing world.</p> <p><strong>Liberation from Laundry in Historical Perspective.</strong> The effect of the washing machine’s arrival in the rich countries as an “engine of liberation” for women, the traditional doers of housework, has been well-documented.<sup><a id="endnote-039-backlink" href="#endnote-039">39</a></sup> Writer Bill Bryson described the dismal task of laundry in 19th-century England in his book <em>At Home: A Short History of Private Life</em>:</p> </div> , <blockquote class="blockquote"> <div> <p>Because there were no detergents before the 1850s, most laundry loads had to be soaked in soapy water or lye for hours, then pounded and scrubbed with vigor, boiled for an hour or more, rinsed repeatedly, wrung out by hand or (after about 1850) fed through a roller, and carried outside to be [hung to dry] . . . Linen was often steeped in stale urine, or a dilute solution of poultry dung, as this had a bleaching effect, but the resulting smell required additional vigorous rinsing, usually in some kind of herbal extract. Starching was such a big job that it was often left to the following day. Ironing was another massive and dauntingly separate task.<sup><a id="endnote-040-backlink" href="#endnote-040">40</a></sup></p> </div> </blockquote> <cite> </cite> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Bryson also notes that each different color of fabric had to be washed separately with distinct chemical compounds; that on laundry day someone had to get up as early as 3 a.m. to get the hot water going; and that in households with servants, laundrymaids were the lowest-ranked, with laundering sometimes doled out as a punishment to other servants.<sup><a id="endnote-041-backlink" href="#endnote-041">41</a></sup></p> <p>The situation in the United States was similarly grim. According to Liberty Fund senior fellow Sarah Skwire, U.S. housewives still spent 11.5 hours per week on laundry in the 1920s.<sup><a id="endnote-042-backlink" href="#endnote-042">42</a></sup> As the market allowed more households access to washing machines or laundry services, average time on laundry fell to just under seven hours by 1965.</p> <p>Laundry machines also became more widespread in many of the countries of Europe around that time. Hans Rosling of the Karolinska Institute described his grandmother’s excitement when his family first bought a washing machine in the early 1950s in Sweden:</p> </div> , <blockquote class="blockquote"> <div> <p>Throughout her life she had been heating water with firewood, and she had hand-washed laundry for seven children. And now she was going to watch electricity do that work. . . . Grandma pushed the button, and she said, “Oh, fantastic! I want to see this! Give me a chair! Give me a chair! I want to see it,” and she sat down in front of the machine, and she watched the entire washing program. She was mesmerized. To my grandmother, the washing machine was a miracle.<sup><a id="endnote-043-backlink" href="#endnote-043">43</a></sup></p> </div> </blockquote> <cite> </cite> , <div class="text-default"> <p>That miracle quickly became commonplace in rich countries such as Sweden and the United States. Where markets were unable to operate, there were no incentives to provide women with laundry machines and other timesaving devices, and so progress was slower. Journalist Slavenka Drakulić noted that an American visiting the Communist Bloc in the 1980s would be aghast to find most women still doing laundry the way they had in the United States 50 years prior, without washing machines.<sup><a id="endnote-044-backlink" href="#endnote-044">44</a></sup> Throughout the Communist Bloc countries, women often soaked clothes in metal tubs, scrubbed them bent over the tubs’ rims using washboards, then boiled them on stovetops, stirring the clothes with long spoons. The elaborate ritual took up a full day each week and left their hands swollen, cracked, and covered in sores.<sup><a id="endnote-045-backlink" href="#endnote-045">45</a></sup> The male economic planners did not even sell rubber gloves that would have protected the women’s skin. Shortages of laundry detergent were also endemic throughout the communist countries. When there is no market incentive to fulfill human needs, it is often women’s needs that are forgotten first.</p> <p>Today, Americans spend less than two hours a week on the chore, and a greater share of poor U.S. households own laundry machines than did the average of all U.S. households in the 1970s.<sup><a id="endnote-046-backlink" href="#endnote-046">46</a></sup> While laundry machines are far from the only reason women’s options have multiplied in the West, they helped. “Without the washing machine,” claims Chang, “the scale of change in the role of women in society and in family dynamics would not have been nearly as dramatic.”<sup><a id="endnote-047-backlink" href="#endnote-047">47</a></sup></p> <p><strong>Ongoing Liberation from Laundry in Developing Countries.</strong> Thanks to economic growth and rapidly declining global poverty, more women enjoy ownership of, or access to, laundry machines. One 2013 study estimated 46.9 percent of households worldwide owned a laundry machine in 2010, while a 2016 survey estimated global laundry machine use at 69 percent, and the market for laundry machines is projected to continue growing.<sup><a id="endnote-048-backlink" href="#endnote-048">48</a></sup></p> <p>Consider China, home to the greatest escape from poverty of all time, when economic liberalization freed hundreds of millions of Chinese from penury.<sup><a id="endnote-049-backlink" href="#endnote-049">49</a></sup> China’s economy (measured in 2014 U.S. dollars and adjusted for differences in purchasing power) grew more than 30-fold between 1978, when the country abandoned communist economic policies, and 2016.<sup><a id="endnote-050-backlink" href="#endnote-050">50</a></sup></p> <p>In 1981, less than 10 percent of urban Chinese households had a washing machine. By 2011, 97.05 percent did.<sup><a id="endnote-051-backlink" href="#endnote-051">51</a></sup> In 1985, less than 5 percent of rural Chinese households had a washing machine. By 2011, 62.57 percent did. This progress is captured in Figure 5. Not only has China seen tremendous progress, but the gap between rural and urban areas has narrowed. In 2016, 89.4 percent of all Chinese households had a washing machine, up from 60.4 percent in 2002.<sup><a id="endnote-052-backlink" href="#endnote-052">52</a></sup></p> <p><strong>Figure 5: Average ownership of washing machines in Chinese households, 1981–2011</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="b14a56d4-25b2-44ae-8721-67489a7faaa8" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="556" alt="Media Name: pa-859-figure-5.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-5.png?itok=LcSYMfOo 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-5.png?itok=PBGCdmCM 1.5x" data-src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-5.png?itok=LcSYMfOo" typeof="Image" /></div> <p><strong>Source:</strong> Laili Wang, Xuemei Ding, Rui Huang, and Xiongying Wu, “Choices and Using of Washing Machines in Chinese Households,” <em>International Journal of Consumer Studies</em><em> </em>38, no. 1 (January 2014): 104–9.</p> <p>Let us turn to India, where liberalizing economic reforms began in 1992.<sup><a id="endnote-053-backlink" href="#endnote-053">53</a></sup> From 1992 to 2016, India’s economy grew four-fold.<sup><a id="endnote-054-backlink" href="#endnote-054">54</a></sup> In 2016, 11 percent of Indian households owned a washing machine.<sup><a id="endnote-055-backlink" href="#endnote-055">55</a></sup> Urban households are better off, with ownership now topping 20 percent in the most populous cities. As India’s economy continues to grow and poverty further declines, more women will be able to hand over the chore of laundry to machines.</p> <p>Market competition and the profit motive incentivized the washing machine’s invention and its ongoing marketing to new customers in developing countries. Bendix Home Appliances patented the first automatic washing machine for domestic use in 1937.<sup><a id="endnote-056-backlink" href="#endnote-056">56</a></sup> As a Bendix ad put it in 1950, “washday slavery became obsolete in just 13 years” for American women. In 2007, Panasonic launched laundry machines with a sterilization mechanism using silver ions designed specifically to address Chinese consumers’ concerns about undergarment bacteria and successfully increased its market share in the country.<sup><a id="endnote-057-backlink" href="#endnote-057">57</a></sup></p> <p>Washing machine ownership is rising in many developing countries, from Brazil to Vietnam (see Figure 6). Unfortunately, Africa remains the continent with the worst record on economic freedom, as well as the poorest continent with the least access to timesaving technologies. Even in Africa, however, markets are now slowly helping to alleviate poverty.<sup><a id="endnote-058-backlink" href="#endnote-058">58</a></sup> Laundry machine market penetration remains low (less than half of households, according to one 2016 survey), so considerable room for progress remains.<sup><a id="endnote-059-backlink" href="#endnote-059">59</a></sup></p> <p><strong>Figure 6: Washing machine ownership, 1977-2017</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="e0220761-7619-425d-a365-010f7bb1f0eb" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="549" alt="Media Name: pa-859-figure-6.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-6.png?itok=ztkBGjFd 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-6.png?itok=XbSeaA0b 1.5x" data-src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-6.png?itok=ztkBGjFd" typeof="Image" /></div> <p><strong>Source:</strong> “Household Possession Rate of Washing Machines,” Global Market Information Database, Euromonitor, <a href="http://www.euromonitor.com/home-laundry-appliances">http://www.euromonitor.com/home-laundry-appliances</a>.</p> <p>Today, laundry machines are doing for women throughout the developing world what they did for women in the West half a century ago: freeing their time and labor from a grueling and relentless chore. It is up to women how they spend the time freed up by innovation.</p> <h3>By Freeing Women’s Time, Innovation Has Expanded Their Options</h3> <p>Women do not invariably choose to devote the “freed” time discussed above to leisure or pursuits outside the household. They may spend the time in home production as before, but thanks to efficiency-enhancing innovations, achieve higher household living standards as a result.</p> <p>Calculations by economist Valerie Ramey of the University of California at San Diego suggest that from 1900 to the mid-1960s, women’s total time devoted to housework fell by only 6 hours per week rather than by 42 as Lebergott claims. Still, Ramey acknowledges the positive trend and concedes that for similar housework hours, women were able to achieve a higher standard of living.<sup><a id="endnote-060-backlink" href="#endnote-060">60</a></sup> In the preindustrial and early industrial eras, having well-prepared meals, “clean clothes, clean dishes, a clean house, and well-cared for children was just another luxury the poor could not afford,” because women without servants lacked the time and physical capacity to perform all the necessary work, claims Ramey.<sup><a id="endnote-061-backlink" href="#endnote-061">61</a></sup></p> <p>In other words, as historian Ruth Cowan of the University of Pennsylvania notes, “modern technology enabled the American housewife of 1950 to produce singlehandedly what her counterpart of 1850 needed a staff of three to four to produce: a middle-class standard of health and cleanliness for herself, her spouse, and her children.”<sup><a id="endnote-062-backlink" href="#endnote-062">62</a></sup></p> <p>Importantly, by liberating women’s time through medical and technological innovations, markets expanded women’s options. Whether women choose to spend the resulting freed time in home production (to better effect), leisure, paid work, or other pursuits, markets have made them better off than before.</p> <p>The change in gendered division of labor also merits mention. As shown in Figure 7, men’s total housework hours in the United States have risen steadily since 1900, as women’s housework hours have declined. While the primary mechanism by which markets have freed women’s time is through innovation, markets may also have aided cultural change, thus leading to more equitable divisions of household labor. One driving force behind this shift may be women’s greater bargaining power within households as a result of the option of labor market participation.</p> <p><strong>Figure 7: Average weekly hours in home production, United States, 1900–2011</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="31ff7fe6-956b-4b18-bb03-e88e3f2dbdea" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="549" alt="Media Name: pa-859-figure-7.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-7.png?itok=YTrbGbRo 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-7.png?itok=kSDiAp36 1.5x" data-src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-7.png?itok=YTrbGbRo" typeof="Image" /></div> <p><strong>Source:</strong> Valerie A. Ramey, “Time Spent in Home Production in the 20th Century: New Estimates from Old Data,” NBER Working Paper no. 13985, May 2008.</p> <p>By freeing up women’s time, a limited and valuable resource, market-driven innovations enabled women to participate in the labor force. And in developing countries where laborsaving devices are not yet widespread, an incredible amount of latent human potential still remains, waiting to be unleashed.</p> <h2>Labor Market Participation</h2> <p>As with innovations, labor market participation has also had a positive effect on women’s material well-being and social equality. Despite its poor reputation, factory work has proven particularly important for women’s labor force integration both historically and today in developing countries.</p> <p>Consider the historical effects of factory work on women in the United States in the 19th century, as well as the effects of factory work on women today in developing countries such as China and Bangladesh.</p> <h3>19th Century Factories in the United States</h3> <p>Women’s economic involvement in the United States increased steadily from the American Revolution through the 19th century. “Women . . . experienced increasing . . . autonomy in the sense of freedom from utter dependence on particular men” over this time period as more and more women took on paid work and married women gained the legal right to separate estates, according to one study of a Southern factory city.<sup><a id="endnote-063-backlink" href="#endnote-063">63</a></sup> However, it was the greater industrialization of the North that heralded the first entry en masse of women into the labor force.</p> <p>Even the wealthy United States had “sweatshops” once. During the Industrial Revolution, young women fled the impoverished countryside to work at factories in cities where they could earn and spend their own money. Most ceased work after marriage, but for a time they enjoyed a level of independence that disturbed Victorian sensibilities.</p> <p>Many complained that factory conditions were too dangerous for women. Others feared living apart from the protection of a father or husband would ruin women’s reputations, because even if they did not actually transgress the mores of the day, they still risked the appearance of impropriety. In 1840, the <em>Boston Quarterly Review</em>’s editor remarked, “‘She has worked in a factory,’ is sufficient to damn to infamy the most worthy and virtuous girl.”<sup><a id="endnote-064-backlink" href="#endnote-064">64</a></sup></p> <p>Female factory workers did not all consider themselves victims of “capitalist exploitation” and insufficient male protection. Such remarks about infamy and mistreatment prompted this response from a textile mill operative named Harriet Farley in Lowell, Massachusetts:</p> </div> , <blockquote class="blockquote"> <div> <p>We are under restraints, but they are voluntarily assumed; and we are at liberty to withdraw from them, whenever they become galling or irksome. . . . [W]e are [here] to get money, as much of it and as fast as we can. . . . It is these wages which, in spite of toil, restraint, discomfort, and prejudice, have drawn so many . . . girls to . . . factories. . . . [O]ne of the most lucrative female employments should [not] be rejected because it is toilsome, or because some people are prejudiced against it. Yankee girls have too much independence for that.<sup><a id="endnote-065-backlink" href="#endnote-065">65</a></sup></p> </div> </blockquote> <cite> </cite> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Farley was far from alone in her sentiments. The “joy of relative independence” was a recurrent theme in millworkers’ accounts, according to historian Alice Kessler-Harris of Columbia University.<sup><a id="endnote-066-backlink" href="#endnote-066">66</a></sup> “As important as the feeling of having cash in one’s pocket was the sense of choice that many women experienced for the first time,” she notes.<sup><a id="endnote-067-backlink" href="#endnote-067">67</a></sup></p> <p><strong>Diverse Motives and Achievements.</strong> Those who imagine Industrial Revolution factory work in the United States as a dark chapter in history might benefit from reading the words of those who lived through it. <em>Farm to Factory: Women’s Letters, 1830–1860</em>, provides a collection of first-hand accounts revealing a more nuanced reality.</p> <p>The letters do indeed reveal abject misery, but that misery comes from 19th-century farm life. To many women, factory work was an escape from backbreaking agricultural labor. Consider this excerpt from a letter a young woman on a New Hampshire farm wrote to her urban factory-worker sister in 1845 (the spelling and punctuation are modernized for readability):</p> </div> , <blockquote class="blockquote"> <div> <p>Between my housework and dairying, spinning, weaving and raking hay I find but little time to write. . . . This morning I fainted away and had to lie on the shed floor fifteen or twenty minutes for any comfort before I could get to bed. And to pay for it tomorrow I have got to wash [the laundry], churn [butter], bake [bread] and make a cheese and go . . . blackberrying [blackberry-picking].<sup><a id="endnote-068-backlink" href="#endnote-068">68</a></sup></p> </div> </blockquote> <cite> </cite> , <div class="text-default"> <p class="Body-Styles_ContinuationParagraph">Compared to the unceasing labor of the farm, even harsh factory conditions can represent a positive change. By contrast, urban living often offered somewhat better living conditions. Far more women sought factory work than there were factory jobs available.</p> <p>A closer look at the letters in the book reveals the incredibly varied lives of the “factory girls.” For example, with a substantial inheritance, Delia Page was never in need of money. But at age 18, Delia decided to take up work in a factory in New Hampshire despite the risks — a mill in nearby Massachusetts had collapsed in a fire that killed 88 people and seriously injured more than a hundred others.<sup><a id="endnote-069-backlink" href="#endnote-069">69</a></sup> Delia’s foster family wrote to her about the tragedy and their fears for her well-being.<sup><a id="endnote-070-backlink" href="#endnote-070">70</a></sup> But she defiantly continued factory work for several years.</p> <p>What led well-to-do Delia to seek out factory work in spite of the danger and long hours? The answer is social independence.<sup><a id="endnote-071-backlink" href="#endnote-071">71</a></sup> In their letters, her foster family repeatedly urged her to break off what they considered a scandalous affair, implored her to attend church, and subtly suggested she come home.<sup><a id="endnote-072-backlink" href="#endnote-072">72</a></sup> But by working in a factory, Delia was free to live on her own terms — to her, that was worth it.</p> <p>The unique story of Emeline Larcom also emerges from the letters. Emeline’s background differed greatly from Delia’s. Her father died at sea and her mother, widowed with 12 children, struggled to support the family.<sup><a id="endnote-073-backlink" href="#endnote-073">73</a></sup> Emeline and three of her sisters found gainful employment at a factory and sent money home to support their mother and other siblings.<sup><a id="endnote-074-backlink" href="#endnote-074">74</a></sup> Emeline, the oldest of the four Larcom factory girls, essentially raised the other three. One of them, Lucy, went on to become a noted poet, professor, and abolitionist. Her own memoirs cast mill work in a positive light.<sup><a id="endnote-075-backlink" href="#endnote-075">75</a></sup></p> <p>Of the diverse personalities captured in the letters, only one openly despises her work in the mill.<sup><a id="endnote-076-backlink" href="#endnote-076">76</a></sup> Mary Paul was a restless spirit. She moved from town to town, sometimes working in factories, sometimes trying her hand at other forms of employment such as tailoring, but she never stayed anywhere for long.<sup><a id="endnote-077-backlink" href="#endnote-077">77</a></sup> She loathed factory work, but it enabled her to save up enough money to pursue her dream: buying entry into a Utopian agricultural community that operated on protosocialist principles.<sup><a id="endnote-078-backlink" href="#endnote-078">78</a></sup></p> <p>She enjoyed living at the “North American Phalanx” and working only two to six hours a day while it lasted.<sup><a id="endnote-079-backlink" href="#endnote-079">79</a></sup> But as is common with such communities, it ran into money problems, exacerbated by a barn fire, and she was forced to leave.<sup><a id="endnote-080-backlink" href="#endnote-080">80</a></sup> She eventually settled down, married a shopkeeper, and — her letters seem to hint — became involved in the early temperance movement to ban alcohol, another ultimately ill-fated venture.<sup><a id="endnote-081-backlink" href="#endnote-081">81</a></sup></p> <p>Delia, Emeline, and Mary provide a glimpse of the different ways that factory work affected women during the Industrial Revolution. Wealthy Delia gained the social independence she sought, and Emeline was able to support her family. Even Mary, who detested factories, was ultimately only able to chase her ill-advised dream through factory work.</p> <p><strong>Increased Earning and Bargaining Power.</strong> In addition to helping women achieve their personal goals, factory work also gave women the economic power to lobby for broader social changes.</p> <p>By midcentury, women in the industrialized North began to mobilize for women’s reform, including equal property rights and custody of children, according to historian Robert Dinkin of California State University at Fresno.<sup><a id="endnote-082-backlink" href="#endnote-082">82</a></sup> This prompted one male commentator to grouse in 1852 that “our women Americans” should be “angels, not agitators.”<sup><a id="endnote-083-backlink" href="#endnote-083">83</a></sup> Some key reforms, such as the wave of laws granting married women more equal property rights, were not a direct result of women’s agitation. “Positive change in the status of women can occur when no organized feminism is present,” as Rutgers University historian Suzanne Lebsock put it.<sup><a id="endnote-084-backlink" href="#endnote-084">84</a></sup> However, in the United States and Britain, working-class women played a key role in the suffrage movement.</p> <p>By contrast, the women leaders of the anti-reform countermovement were generally housewives.<sup><a id="endnote-085-backlink" href="#endnote-085">85</a></sup> Many of them felt threatened by the newfound purchasing power of factory workers. Sarah Hale, editor of <em>Godey’s Lady’s Book</em>, the most influential mainstream women’s magazine of the day, insisted women should shun activism and bewailed the fact that factory women could afford the same clothes as the upper-class — even gold watches — thus creating a “problem of distinguishing the lady from the factory worker by dress alone.”<sup><a id="endnote-086-backlink" href="#endnote-086">86</a></sup> Her panic over blurring social classes exemplifies how industrialization created widespread material prosperity for the first time.</p> <p>In the primarily agricultural economy of the South, women were less active in paid labor than their northern counterparts. Free women were not typically involved in the business aspect of plantations, with notable exceptions such as late 18th century indigo mogul Eliza Pinckney.<sup><a id="endnote-087-backlink" href="#endnote-087">87</a></sup> As for enslaved women, the ability of slaves to earn money and buy personal property was mostly limited to urban areas. In 1860, about 6 percent of rural and 31 percent of urban slaves were “hired out,” often receiving a share of the wages earned.<sup><a id="endnote-088-backlink" href="#endnote-088">88</a></sup> However, their property rights were profoundly restricted. The abolition of slavery in 1865 enabled many of the roughly 13 percent of U.S. women who had been slaves to engage in paid labor for the first time.<sup><a id="endnote-089-backlink" href="#endnote-089">89</a></sup></p> <p><strong>Factories Helped Change Attitudes on Female Labor Force Participation.</strong> Before the rise of the modern regulatory state, there typically were no written laws barring free women from entering occupations. However, sexist customary prohibitions were strong. Cultural attitudes thus served to limit women’s ability to pursue various professions.</p> <p>Aided by the increased visibility of women mill workers, those attitudes later underwent a transformation. By the mid-19th century, even Southern newspapers openly advocated economic freedom for (white) women: “Now, what every woman, no less than every man, should have to depend upon, is an ability, after some fashion or other, to turn labor into money. She may not . . . exercise it, but everyone ought to possess it.”<sup><a id="endnote-090-backlink" href="#endnote-090">90</a></sup> Editorials made explicit calls to widen the range of occupations open to female workers, ranging from postmasters to artists.</p> <p>In 1840, one source alleged that only seven industries were widely available to women: teaching, running an inn or boardinghouse, typesetting, bookbinding, needlework, domestic service, and mill work. By 1883, around 300 occupations were open to women, ranging from “lady government officials” to beekeepers and wood engravers.<sup><a id="endnote-091-backlink" href="#endnote-091">91</a></sup> There were about 30 practicing women lawyers, and even female physicians in the United States. Despite facing prejudice for their race as well as their gender, the first black female physician, Rebecca Lee Crumpler, earned her medical degree from New England Female Medical College in 1864, and the first black female lawyer, Charlotte E. Ray, graduated from Howard University School of Law in 1872.<sup><a id="endnote-092-backlink" href="#endnote-092">92</a></sup></p> <p>New fields continued to open to women throughout the 20th century.<sup><a id="endnote-093-backlink" href="#endnote-093">93</a></sup> Women’s labor force participation rose in part thanks to expanded opportunities. “Another factor was the greater acceptance of married women in the labor force,” claims Harvard University economist Claudia Goldin.<sup><a id="endnote-094-backlink" href="#endnote-094">94</a></sup> But it was improvements in household production technology in the mid-20th century that allowed many more married women to enter the workforce instead of tending the home as a full-time job (see Figure 8). As shown in Figure 9, women’s home production time fell more sharply after 1966, as those technologies became more widely available, boosting labor market participation further. While not the only causes, the technological and medical gains freeing women’s time from home production and allowing for smaller family sizes played an outsized role in bringing women’s labor force participation in the United States up to its current level.</p> <p><strong>Figure 8: Labor force participation rates in the United States by sex and marital status, 1890–2016</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="31f484ba-4b83-439f-abd2-a7ade22eab0e" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="534" alt="Media Name: pa-859-figure-8.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-8.png?itok=9pAhiRW0 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-8.png?itok=9iR5Qat3 1.5x" data-src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-8.png?itok=9pAhiRW0" typeof="Image" /></div> <p><strong>Source:</strong> Claudia Goldin, “The Quiet Revolution that Transformed Women’s Employment, Education and Family,” Harvard University Richard T. Ely Lecture, Figure 1, <a href="https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/goldin/files/the_quiet_revolution_that_transformed_womens_employment_education_and_family.pdf">https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/goldin/files/the_quiet_revolution_that_transformed_womens_employment_education_and_family.pdf</a>; “Employment Status of the Civilian Noninstitutional Population by Age, Sex, and Race,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; “(Unadj) Civilian Labor Force Level — Married 35–44 yrs., White Women,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; “Current Population Survey,” U.S. Census Bureau; and “Labor Force (Series D 1-682),” Historical Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau.</p> <p><strong>Figure 9: Average weekly hours spent in home production and market work among female prime-age workers, 1900–2012</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="7000d047-976c-488a-bcf0-8a2640913685" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="552" alt="Media Name: pa-859-figure-9.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-9.png?itok=KmHgbzzF 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-9.png?itok=_xJ1dfPi 1.5x" data-src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-9.png?itok=KmHgbzzF" typeof="Image" /></div> <p><strong>Source:</strong> Valerie Ramey, “Time Spent in Home Production in the 20th Century United States,” <em>Journal of Economic History</em> (March 2009): 33; updates through 2012 are from Ramey’s website, “Valerie A. Ramey,” Department of Economics, University of California, San Diego, <a href="http://econweb.ucsd.edu/~vramey/research.html">http://econweb.ucsd.edu/~vramey/research.html</a>.</p> <p>Though the Industrial Revolution is often vilified, it empowered many women to both achieve their personal goals and to effect social change, and it was an important first step toward increasing women’s socioeconomic mobility. The option of labor force participation empowers women by offering them the chance to earn money and attain economic independence.<sup><a id="endnote-095-backlink" href="#endnote-095">95</a></sup> The potential earning power then translates into increased intrahousehold and societal bargaining power, lending more weight to women’s voices. The option of entering the labor force also strengthens the fallback position of women who choose not to engage in paid labor.</p> <p>Industrialization transformed not only women’s lives, but society, and ultimately brought about widely shared prosperity unimaginable in the preindustrial world. The pace of industrial economic development has even been speeding up.<sup><a id="endnote-096-backlink" href="#endnote-096">96</a></sup> In South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, the process of moving from sweatshops to First World living standards took less than two generations, as opposed to a century in the United States. Such “sweatshop” factories are often primarily staffed by women.</p> <p>Harriet Farley’s arguments still apply today. As long as work is “voluntarily assumed” and laborers maintain the “liberty to withdraw” from it, we should not reject a potential force for women’s empowerment in developing countries in an attempt to protect them.</p> <p>“[A]sk the woman,” economic historian Deirdre McCloskey suggests, “if she would rather that the shoe company not make her the offer. . . . Look at the length of queue that forms when Nike opens a new plant in Indonesia. And ask her if she’d rather not have any market opportunities at all, and be left home instead entirely to her father or husband.”<sup><a id="endnote-097-backlink" href="#endnote-097">97</a></sup></p> <h3>Factories in Developing Countries Today</h3> <p>Today, throughout the developing world, factory work continues to serve as a path out of poverty and an escape from agricultural drudgery, with particular benefits for women seeking economic independence. There remain places “where sweatshops are a dream,” offering life-transforming wages.<sup><a id="endnote-098-backlink" href="#endnote-098">98</a></sup></p> <p>Experts across the ideological spectrum agree that factories are a proven path to development.<sup><a id="endnote-099-backlink" href="#endnote-099">99</a></sup> “The overwhelming mainstream view among economists is that the growth of this kind of employment is tremendous good news for the world’s poor,” as economist Paul Krugman put it.<sup><a id="endnote-100-backlink" href="#endnote-100">100</a></sup></p> <p>Industrialization helps women in particular: consider China and Bangladesh.</p> <p><strong>Factories Today in China.</strong> China experienced the most remarkable advancement out of poverty of all time, partly thanks to a manufacturing boom following economic liberalization in the late 1970s and 1980s. Some fear this has led to widespread exploitation and sweatshop conditions.</p> <p>“This simple narrative equating Western demand and Chinese suffering is appealing,” according to writer Leslie T. Chang. “But it’s also inaccurate and disrespectful.”<sup><a id="endnote-101-backlink" href="#endnote-101">101</a></sup> “Chinese workers are not forced into factories because of our insatiable desire for iPods,” Chang explains.<sup><a id="endnote-102-backlink" href="#endnote-102">102</a></sup> “They choose to leave their homes [in rural China] in order to earn money, to learn new skills and to see the world.”</p> <p>She spent two years in China getting to know factory workers in order to make their stories known.<sup><a id="endnote-103-backlink" href="#endnote-103">103</a></sup> “In the ongoing debate about globalization, what’s been missing is the voice of the workers themselves,” she says. “Certainly the factory conditions are really tough, and it’s nothing you or I would want to do, but from their perspective, where they’re coming from is much worse. . . . I just wanted to give that context of what’s going on in their minds, not what necessarily is going on in yours.”<sup><a id="endnote-104-backlink" href="#endnote-104">104</a></sup></p> <p>The book Chang published as a result of her research, <em>Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China</em>, presents an intimate picture of how globalization changed the lives of women in her ancestral country.<sup><a id="endnote-105-backlink" href="#endnote-105">105</a></sup> The portraits that emerge of independent, ambitious young women contrast sharply with the widespread narrative of victimhood.</p> <p>Women accounted for 70 percent of rural transplants to the factory city that Chang visited. They travel farther from home and stay longer in urban areas than their male counterparts. Women “are more likely to value migration for its life-changing possibilities” than men, because gender roles are less restrictive in cities than in the traditional countryside.<sup><a id="endnote-106-backlink" href="#endnote-106">106</a></sup> Unlike in most countries, in China women have a higher suicide rate than men, and in rural areas they are two to five times more likely to kill themselves than in cities.<sup><a id="endnote-107-backlink" href="#endnote-107">107</a></sup> Yet China’s suicide rate has declined more rapidly than any other country’s in recent years, falling from among the world’s <em>highest</em> rates in the 1990s, driven by sky-high rates among young rural women, to among the world’s <em>lowest</em> rates (see Figure 10).<sup><a id="endnote-108-backlink" href="#endnote-108">108</a></sup> The World Health Organization attributes this progress partly to women gaining the option to leave the countryside to work in factory cities, and so improving their social and economic conditions.<sup><a id="endnote-109-backlink" href="#endnote-109">109</a></sup><em>The Telegraph</em>’s Yuan Ren ascribes the high rural suicide rate to harsh gender roles: “Even today, many rural women are treated like second class citizens by their own family, subordinate to their fathers, brothers and — once married — their husband and mother-in-law.”<sup><a id="endnote-110-backlink" href="#endnote-110">110</a></sup> A 2010 study found that, whereas marriage has a protective effect against suicide in many countries, marriage <em>triples</em> suicide risk among young rural Chinese women.<sup><a id="endnote-111-backlink" href="#endnote-111">111</a></sup> The author notes that “being married in rural Chinese culture usually . . . further limits [a woman’s] freedom” as a possible explanation for this.<sup><a id="endnote-112-backlink" href="#endnote-112">112</a></sup></p> <p><strong>Figure 10: Urbanization and decreasing suicide in China, 1992–2011</strong><br /></p><div data-embed-button="image" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.full" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="f4cda0d8-df05-497e-b820-2633365bf848" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <img width="700" height="520" alt="Media Name: pa-859-figure-10.png" class="lozad component-image lozad" data-srcset="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-10.png?itok=lXhcAyHo 1x, /sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs_2x/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-10.png?itok=FyzdB6ic 1.5x" data-src="/sites/cato.org/files/styles/pubs/public/images/pubs/pa-859/pa-859-figure-10.png?itok=lXhcAyHo" typeof="Image" /></div> <p><strong>Source:</strong> “Back from the Edge,” <em>The Economist</em>, June 24, 2014; Jie Zhang and Long Sun, “The Change in Suicide Rates between 2002 and 2011 in China,” <em>Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior</em> 44, no. 5 (April 2014): 4.</p> <p>Escape from such gender roles helps explain why many women choose to migrate. Initially, Chinese society viewed factory work as dangerous and shameful to a woman’s reputation, echoing Victorian concerns for the Industrial Revolution’s factory girls.<sup><a id="endnote-113-backlink" href="#endnote-113">113</a></sup> But over time, migration became a rite of passage for rural Chinese. Today, urban life affords factory workers — particularly women — freedom from rural areas’ more traditional, restrictive social norms. As <em>The Economist</em> put it, “Moving to the cities to work . . . has been the salvation of many rural young women, liberating them.”<sup><a id="endnote-114-backlink" href="#endnote-114">114</a></sup></p> <p>In the city, Chang was surprised to find that social mobility was strong, with many assembly line women moving into administrative roles or other fields.<sup><a id="endnote-115-backlink" href="#endnote-115">115</a></sup> Factory turnover was high, as women frequently switched jobs in search of better prospects. Compared to their Industrial Revolution predecessors, China’s factory girls enjoy more opportunities for economic mobility and long-term labor force participation. Chang observed that evening classes in business etiquette, English, or computer skills could catapult an ambitious woman into white-collar work. In fact, as China’s human capital and wages have soared, more workers have moved into the services sector, and many factories have relocated southward to poorer countries such as Bangladesh.</p> <p>Urbanization not only offers escape from poverty, but also has the knock-on effect of improving migrants’ home villages. It demolishes the idea that being poor in the city is just as bad, if not worse, than being poor in the countryside. When Min, a handbag factory employee accustomed to modern city life, visited her family home in the countryside, she found herself faced with this scene:</p> </div> , <blockquote class="blockquote"> <div> <p>Electricity was used sparingly to save money, and most dinners were eaten in near-darkness. There was no plumbing and no heating. In the wet chill of the Hubei winter, the whole family wore their coats and gloves indoors, and the cement walls and floors soaked up the cold like a sponge. If you sat too long, your toes went numb, and your fingers too.<sup><a id="endnote-116-backlink" href="#endnote-116">116</a></sup></p> </div> </blockquote> <cite> </cite> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Min made it her mission to modernize the farm home where she grew up. “Min walked through the house pointing out improvements she wanted: a hot-water dispenser, a washing machine, a walk of poured concrete across the muddy yard.”<sup><a id="endnote-117-backlink" href="#endnote-117">117</a></sup> She told Chang she planned on eventually paying for the construction of an indoor bathroom and an electric hot-water heater so that her family might bathe in the winter without being cold.</p> <p>Migrants like Min act as the chief source of village income by sending earnings home. Min and her older sister Guimin sent home more than double the amount of money the small family farm brought in through the sale of pigs and cotton. The money also gave the sisters a voice in family affairs, letting them insist that their younger sisters attend school longer than was usual for girls.</p> <p>As Chang notes, most migrants never return permanently to the countryside. “The ones who do well will likely buy apartments and settle in their adopted cities; the others may eventually move to towns and cities near their home villages and set up stores, restaurants, and small businesses like hairdressing salons or tailoring shops.”<sup><a id="endnote-118-backlink" href="#endnote-118">118</a></sup> Very few go back to farming.<sup><a id="endnote-119-backlink" href="#endnote-119">119</a></sup> The majority of China’s swelling new middle class are former economic migrants who did well in the cities and stayed.<sup><a id="endnote-120-backlink" href="#endnote-120">120</a></sup></p> <p>But urban life does more than simply raise a woman’s expectations regarding social status and influence. According to Chang, migration makes rural women more likely to seek equality in marriage.<sup><a id="endnote-121-backlink" href="#endnote-121">121</a></sup> This is one way, in the factory towns of the south, young women “came to believe that they mattered, despite their humble origins.”<sup><a id="endnote-122-backlink" href="#endnote-122">122</a></sup></p> <p>As economic opportunity has swept across China, it has brought a sense of self-worth. Chang notes the older and more rural Chinese she interviewed did not believe their stories were worth telling, but the young women in the city deemed themselves worthy subjects. Chang noted that “individualism was taking root.”<sup><a id="endnote-123-backlink" href="#endnote-123">123</a></sup></p> <p>Thanks to economic liberalization, for the first time “there was an opportunity to leave your village and change your fate, to imagine a different life and make it real. . . . [Factory women] were concerned with their own destinies, and they made their own decisions.”<sup><a id="endnote-124-backlink" href="#endnote-124">124</a></sup> Globalization didn’t imprison them in sweatshops; it expanded their options.</p> <p><strong>Factories Today in Bangladesh.</strong> The word “sweatshop” still conjures images of the tragic 2013 Rana Plaza garment factory building collapse in Bangladesh that resulted in more than a thousand deaths. In the wake of such disasters, many people in rich countries assume the compassionate response is to impose trade restrictions. But such a response would harm Bangladeshi garment workers, most of whom are women, by forcing them into far worse situations than factory work.</p> <p>Social economist Naila Kabeer explored the “transformatory potential” of factories in her 2000 book, <em>The Power to Choose</em>.<sup><a id="endnote-125-backlink" href="#endnote-125">125</a></sup> She interviewed 60 women in her native Bangladesh. The country is home to 18.4 million of the world’s poorest people and has strict gender norms.<sup><a id="endnote-126-backlink" href="#endnote-126">126</a></sup></p> <p>“In my mother’s time,” one woman told Kabeer, “women had to tolerate more suffering because they did not have the means to become independent. [T]hey are better off now. . . . [T]hey can work and stand on their own feet. They have more freedom.”<sup><a id="endnote-127-backlink" href="#endnote-127">127</a></sup></p> <p>For many years, government and nongovernmental organizations tried unsuccessfully to promote female participation in Bangladesh’s labor force. “In the end, however, it took market forces, and the advent of an export-oriented garment industry, to achieve what a decade of government and non-government efforts had failed to do: to create a female labor force,” notes Kabeer.<sup><a id="endnote-128-backlink" href="#endnote-128">128</a></sup></p> <p>The country industrialized rapidly, growing its number of export-oriented factories from a handful in the mid-1970s to around 700 by 1985.<sup><a id="endnote-129-backlink" href="#endnote-129">129</a></sup> Today, approximately 80 percent of garment workers are female, according to the World Bank.<sup><a id="endnote-130-backlink" href="#endnote-130">130</a></sup></p> <p>In 1985, Britain, France, and the United States all imposed quota limitations on clothing imports from Bangladesh in response to anti-sweatshop campaigns financed by labor unions in the rich countries.<sup><a id="endnote-131-backlink" href="#endnote-131">131</a></sup> Within three months, two-thirds of Bangladeshi factories shuttered their gates and more than 100,000 women were thrown out of work.<sup><a id="endnote-132-backlink" href="#endnote-132">132</a></sup></p> <p>The Bangladeshi General Secretary of National Garment Workers had this to say to the anti-sweatshop activists:</p> </div> , <blockquote class="blockquote"> <div> <p>[N]ot buying Bangladeshi shirts isn’t going to help us, it will just take away people’s jobs. The shock tactics — such as the pictures I have seen from America of Bangladeshi shirts dripping with blood — should stop. . . . As workers, we give an emphatic “yes” to the campaign against quotas.<sup><a id="endnote-133-backlink" href="#endnote-133">133</a></sup></p> </div> </blockquote> <cite> </cite> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Britain and France removed their quotas in 1986, and Bangladesh’s garment industry has since expanded to thousands of factories employing millions. (The United States finally ended its apparel quota regime, which included Bangladeshi imports, in 2005, but still maintains import tariffs on many kinds of apparel).<sup><a id="endnote-134-backlink" href="#endnote-134">134</a></sup> Growing protectionist sentiment in rich countries, aided by sensationalized accounts of working conditions in poor countries, could restrict Bangladesh’s growth.</p> <p>Despite its poor reputation, Bangladeshi factory work has slashed extreme poverty and increased women’s educational attainment while lowering rates of child marriage.<sup><a id="endnote-135-backlink" href="#endnote-135">135</a></sup> The share of Bangladeshi women married by age 18 has fallen from more than 73 percent in 1994 to 59 percent in 2014, and the average age of Bangladeshi brides at first marriage has risen from 16 in 1975 to 19 in 2013.<sup><a id="endnote-136-backlink" href="#endnote-136">136</a></sup> As in China, in Bangladesh women commit suicide at higher rates than men, and the rural suicide rate is 17-fold higher than the urban suicide rate.<sup><a id="endnote-137-backlink" href="#endnote-137">137</a></sup> An overview of the literature concluded that the unusually high suicide rate among young women reflected forced marriages, lower social status of women, poverty, and high rates of violence against women.<sup><a id="endnote-138-backlink" href="#endnote-138">138</a></sup> As with China, Bangladesh’s suicide rate has declined as urbanization has increased.<sup><a id="endnote-139-backlink" href="#endnote-139">139</a></sup> As women have left the countryside for factory work in cities, it has not only improved their personal situations, but also sparked broader cultural change toward more freedom for women.</p> <p>“Now I feel I have rights,” explained a factory woman whose earnings allowed her to escape her physically abusive spouse. “I can earn and survive.”<sup><a id="endnote-140-backlink" href="#endnote-140">140</a></sup></p> <p>The country’s women-dominated garment industry transformed the norm of <em>purdah</em> or seclusion (literally, “veil”) that traditionally prevented women from working beyond the home, walking outside unaccompanied by a male guardian, or even speaking in the presence of unrelated men. Many Bangladeshi women now interpret <em>purdah</em> to simply mean modesty instead of social and economic segregation. In Kabeer’s words, factory work let women “renegotiate the boundaries of permissible behavior.”<sup><a id="endnote-141-backlink" href="#endnote-141">141</a></sup> Today, in Dhaka and other industrial cities, women walk outside and interact with unrelated men.</p> <p>Kabeer found “the decision to take up factory work was largely initiated by the women themselves, often in the face of considerable resistance from other family members.”<sup><a id="endnote-142-backlink" href="#endnote-142">142</a></sup> Some men beat their wives for seeking factory work. Dismayingly, a 2011 survey showed 65 percent of Bangladeshi wives have experienced domestic violence.<sup><a id="endnote-143-backlink" href="#endnote-143">143</a></sup></p> <p>Several men Kabeer interviewed feared factory work gave women too much freedom. As one man put it:</p> </div> , <blockquote class="blockquote"> <div> <p>Women . . . are becoming a little too free. When I marry, I will not let my wife work. Then she will have to obey my wishes because she will be dependent on me.<sup><a id="endnote-144-backlink" href="#endnote-144">144</a></sup></p> </div> </blockquote> <cite> </cite> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Not all Bangladeshi men think that way. In fact, the earning power of women is eroding the custom of bridal dowries. It has also brought about greater responsiveness by the court system toward women. Since women have started working, the “law is on their side,” one woman explained.<sup><a id="endnote-145-backlink" href="#endnote-145">145</a></sup></p> <p>Attitudes toward women are changing, and Kabeer found that earning increased the weight a woman’s priorities carried within the household. “When she brings [in] money, I have to buy her whatever she wants,” explained one factory woman’s husband. He continued, “She may want a new sari or she may say that [our] daughter needs a book . . .”<sup><a id="endnote-146-backlink" href="#endnote-146">146</a></sup></p> <p>“Because women can work and earn money, they are being given some recognition. Now all the men think that they are worth something,” claimed one woman.<sup><a id="endnote-147-backlink" href="#endnote-147">147</a></sup></p> <p>Tragedies like the Rana Plaza building collapse are horrifying and understandably garner a lot of press. But they should not overshadow the garment industry’s wider-reaching effects on the material well-being and social equality of women in Bangladesh. As one factory worker put it: “The garments have saved so many lives.”<sup><a id="endnote-148-backlink" href="#endnote-148">148</a></sup></p> <h2>Conclusion</h2> <p>Market-led innovation has improved the lives of women even more so than for men. Women have reaped greater benefits from health advances financed by the prosperity created by free enterprise: female life expectancy has risen faster than men’s and today women outlive men almost everywhere. Women are also less likely to die in childbirth, and falling infant mortality rates have enabled smaller family sizes, giving women more time. Laborsaving household devices have also freed women from the burden of housework. This freeing of women’s time is ongoing as appliances spread throughout the world, and as women spend less time on household production, more of them choose to engage in paid labor.</p> <p>Labor market participation offers women economic independence and heightened societal bargaining power. Factory work, despite its poor reputation, empowered women in the 19th-century United States by helping them achieve economic independence and social change. Today, the story of the factory girls is repeating itself in new settings across the world, as young women gain economic independence through risk and toil. In China, factory work gave rural women a chance to change their fates and the conditions in their home villages. In Bangladesh it let women renegotiate restrictive cultural norms.</p> <p>Innovation and market participation enable women to achieve greater material prosperity and promote positive cultural change away from sexism. Progress is still in its earlier stages in many countries, but with the right policies, women everywhere can one day enjoy the same degree of material prosperity and cultural gender equality present in the United States today.</p> <h2>Notes</h2> <p><sup><a id="endnote-001" href="#endnote-001-backlink">1</a></sup> “Human Development Report 2016,” United Nations Development Programme, p. 3, <a href="http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/2016_human_development_report.pdf">http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/2016_human_development_report.pdf</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-002" href="#endnote-002-backlink">2</a></sup> Esther Duflo, “Women Empowerment and Economic Development,” <em>Journal of Economic Literature</em> 50, no. 4 (2012): 1053.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-003" href="#endnote-003-backlink">3</a></sup> Victoria Bateman, “To Understand Britain’s History of Prosperity, Just Look to Its Women,” <em>UnHerd</em>, October 4, 2017; Matthew Willis, “How 17th Century Unmarried Women Helped Shape Capitalism,” <em>JSTOR Daily</em>, December 19, 2017; and Ana Ravenga and Sudhir Shetty, “Empowering Women Is Smart Economics,” <em>Finance &amp; Development</em> 49, no. 1 (2012): 40–3.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-004" href="#endnote-004-backlink">4</a></sup> Max Roser, “Life Expectancy,” Our World in Data, <a href="https://ourworldindata.org/life-expectancy">https://ourworldindata.org/life-expectancy</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-005" href="#endnote-005-backlink">5</a></sup> Samuel H. Preston, “The Changing Relation between Mortality and Level of Economic Development,” <em>Population Studies</em> 29, no. 2 (1975): 231–48.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-006" href="#endnote-006-backlink">6</a></sup> Angus Deaton, <em>The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality</em> (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013), p. 32.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-007" href="#endnote-007-backlink">7</a></sup> Deaton, <em>The Great Escape</em>, pp. 95–7.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-008" href="#endnote-008-backlink">8</a></sup> Deaton, <em>The Great Escape</em>, p. 97.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-009" href="#endnote-009-backlink">9</a></sup> Michael R. Haines, “The Urban Mortality Transition in the United States, 1800–1940,” <em>NBER Historical Working Paper no.</em> <em>134</em>, National Bureau of Economic Research, July 2001.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-010" href="#endnote-010-backlink">10</a></sup> “Middlesex Company Boardinghouse Regulations, Lowell, Massachusetts, c. 1846,” in Thomas Dublin, ed., <em>Farm to Factory: Women’s Letters, 1830–1860</em>, 2nd ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), p. 11.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-011" href="#endnote-011-backlink">11</a></sup> Ann E. Cudd and Nancy Holmstrom, <em>Capitalism, For and Against: A Feminist Debate</em> (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 39.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-012" href="#endnote-012-backlink">12</a></sup> Deaton, <em>The Great Escape</em>, p. 75; Katherine A. Dettwyer, <em>Cultural Anthropology and Human Experience</em> (Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 2011), p. 153.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-013" href="#endnote-013-backlink">13</a></sup> Deaton, <em>The Great Escape</em>, p. 75.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-014" href="#endnote-014-backlink">14</a></sup> Deaton, <em>The Great Escape</em>, p. 75.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-015" href="#endnote-015-backlink">15</a></sup> Deaton, <em>The Great Escape</em>, p. 77.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-016" href="#endnote-016-backlink">16</a></sup> Deaton, <em>The Great Escape</em>, pp. 79–80.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-017" href="#endnote-017-backlink">17</a></sup> Max Roser, “Children that Died Before 5 Years of Age per Woman (based on Gapminder), Children that Survived Past Their 5th Birthday per Woman,” Our World in Data, <a href="http://www.OurWorldInData.org/child-mortality/">www.OurWorldInData.org/child-mortality/</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-018" href="#endnote-018-backlink">18</a></sup> Hiram Beltrán-Sáncheza, Caleb E. Finch, and Eileen M. Crimmins, “Twentieth Century Surge of Excess Adult Male Mortality,” <em>Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</em> 112, no. 29 (2015): 8993–8.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-019" href="#endnote-019-backlink">19</a></sup> Steven Pinker, <em>Enlightenment Now: the Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress</em> (New York: Viking, 2018), p. 57.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-020" href="#endnote-020-backlink">20</a></sup> Laura Helmuth, “The Disturbing, Shameful History of Childbirth Deaths,” <em>Slate</em>, September 10, 2013, <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science_of_longevity/2013/09/death_in_childbirth_doctors_increased_maternal_mortality_in_the_20th_century.html">http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science_of_longevity/2013/09/death_in_childbirth_doctors_increased_maternal_mortality_in_the_20th_century.html</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-021" href="#endnote-021-backlink">21</a></sup> Deaton, <em>The Great Escape</em>, p. 66.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-022" href="#endnote-022-backlink">22</a></sup> Noah Smith, “The Population Bomb Has Been Defused,” <em>Bloomberg View</em>, March 16, 2018, <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-03-16/decline-in-world-fertility-rates-lowers-risks-of-mass-starvation">https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-03-16/decline-in-world-fertility-rates-lowers-risks-of-mass-starvation</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-023" href="#endnote-023-backlink">23</a></sup> “The Desire for Children: Wanted,” <em>The Economist</em>, August 25, 2016.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-024" href="#endnote-024-backlink">24</a></sup> “Demography and Desire: the Empty Crib,” <em>The Economist</em>, August 27, 2016, <a href="https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21705678-our-poll-19-countries-reveals-neglected-global-scourge-number-would-be-parents-who">https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21705678-our-poll-19-countries-reveals-neglected-global-scourge-number-would-be-parents-who</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-025" href="#endnote-025-backlink">25</a></sup> Deaton, <em>The Great Escape</em>, p. 105.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-026" href="#endnote-026-backlink">26</a></sup> Deaton, <em>The Great Escape</em>, p. 101.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-027" href="#endnote-027-backlink">27</a></sup> Marian L. Tupy, “Cost of Living and Wage Stagnation in the United States, 1979–2015,” Cato Institute, January 2016.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-028" href="#endnote-028-backlink">28</a></sup> Deirdre McCloskey, “Post-Modern Free-Market Feminism: Half of a Conversation with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak,” <em>Rethinking Marxism</em> 12, no. 4 (2000): 31, citing Stanley Lebergott, <em>Pursuing Happiness: American Consumers in the Twentieth Century</em> (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), p. 51.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-029" href="#endnote-029-backlink">29</a></sup> Stanley Lebergott, <em>The American Economy: Income, Wealth and Want</em> (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), p. 106.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-030" href="#endnote-030-backlink">30</a></sup> Lindsay P. Smith, Shu Wen Ng, and Barry M. Popkin, “Trends in U.S. Home Food Preparation and Consumption: Analysis of National Nutrition Surveys and Time Use Studies from 1965–1966 to 2007–2008,” <em>Nutrition Journal</em> 12, no. 45 (2013), Table 2.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-031" href="#endnote-031-backlink">31</a></sup> Jesse Rhodes, “Why We Have Sliced Bread,” <em>Smithsonian Magazine</em>, March 7, 2012.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-032" href="#endnote-032-backlink">32</a></sup> Lebergott, <em>The American Economy</em>, p. 105.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-033" href="#endnote-033-backlink">33</a></sup> “Advance Retail Sales: Grocery Stores, Millions of Dollars, Seasonally Adjusted” vs. “Advance Retail Sales: Food Services and Drinking Places, Millions of Dollars, Seasonally Adjusted,” Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Economic Data, <a href="https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=lIgF">https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=lIgF</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-034" href="#endnote-034-backlink">34</a></sup> Eileen Bevis, “Home Cooking and Eating Habits: Global Survey Strategic Analysis,” <em>Euromonitor International</em>, April 30, 2012.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-035" href="#endnote-035-backlink">35</a></sup> “Cooking: Consumers’ Attitudes Towards, and Time Spent Cooking,” Global GfK survey, March 2015.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-036" href="#endnote-036-backlink">36</a></sup> Euromonitor, Passport Global Market Information Database, “Economies and Consumers Annual Data,” 2018.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-037" href="#endnote-037-backlink">37</a></sup> Euromonitor, Passport Global Market Information Database, “Economies and Consumers Annual Data,” 2018.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-038" href="#endnote-038-backlink">38</a></sup> Ha-Joon Chang, <em>23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism</em> (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2010), p. 31.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-039" href="#endnote-039-backlink">39</a></sup> Jeremy Greenwood, Ananth Seshadri, and Mehmet Yorukoglu, “Engines of Liberation,” <em>Review of Economic Studies</em> 72, no. 1 (2005): 109–33.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-040" href="#endnote-040-backlink">40</a></sup> Bill Bryson, <em>At Home: A Short History of Private Life</em> (London: Doubleday, 2010), p. 108.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-041" href="#endnote-041-backlink">41</a></sup> Bryson, <em>At Home: A Short History of Private Life</em>, pp. 107–8.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-042" href="#endnote-042-backlink">42</a></sup> Sarah Skwire, “Capitalism Will Abolish Laundry Day,” <em>Foundation for Economic Education</em>, April 7, 2016, <a href="https://fee.org/articles/capitalism-will-abolish-laundry-day/">https://fee.org/articles/capitalism-will-abolish-laundry-day/</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-043" href="#endnote-043-backlink">43</a></sup> Hans Rosling, “The Magic Washing Machine,” TEDWomen 2010 Conference, Washington, D.C., December 7, 2010, <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_and_the_magic_washing_machine">https://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_and_the_magic_washing_machine</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-044" href="#endnote-044-backlink">44</a></sup> Slavenka Drakulić, <em>How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed</em> (New York: HarperCollins, 1993), pp. 43–54.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-045" href="#endnote-045-backlink">45</a></sup> Drakulić, <em>How We Survived Communism</em>, p. 43.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-046" href="#endnote-046-backlink">46</a></sup> “Time Spent on Laundry,” Human Progress, 2016, <a href="http://humanprogress.org/static/3264">http://humanprogress.org/static/3264</a>; and Marian L. Tupy, “What Does It Mean to Be Poor Today?” <em>CapX</em>, April 20, 2017, <a href="https://capx.co/what-does-it-mean-to-be-poor-today/">https://capx.co/what-does-it-mean-to-be-poor-today/</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-047" href="#endnote-047-backlink">47</a></sup> Chang, <em>23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism</em>, p. 36.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-048" href="#endnote-048-backlink">48</a></sup> Claus Barthel and Thomas Götz, “The Overall Worldwide Saving Potential from Domestic Washing Machines,” <em>bigEE</em> (2013): 1–64; “Global Commercial Washing Machine Market 2016-2020,” Infiniti Research Limited, November 2016; and Nielson, “The Dirt on Cleaning: Home Cleaning/Laundry Attitudes and Trends around the World,” Global Home Care Report, April 2016, p. 25, <a href="http://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/nielsenglobal/eu/docs/pdf/Nielsen%20Global%20Home%20Care%20Report.pdf?wgu=12765_54264_15294207023509_6d28c8272e&amp;wgexpiry=1537196702&amp;afflt=ntrt15340001&amp;afflt_uid=w_ftp6T1G58.Es1_5dvWXe2Nf0PPqaIOzgCptiQqJpVc&amp;afflt_uid_2=AFFLT_ID_2">http://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/nielsenglobal/eu/docs/pdf/Nielsen%20Global%20Home%20Care%20Report.pdf?wgu=12765_54264_15294207023509_6d28c8272e&amp;wgexpiry=1537196702&amp;afflt=ntrt15340001&amp;afflt_uid=w_ftp6T1G58.Es1_5dvWXe2Nf0PPqaIOzgCptiQqJpVc&amp;afflt_uid_2=AFFLT_ID_2</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-049" href="#endnote-049-backlink">49</a></sup> “Number of People Living in Poverty,” Human Progress, 2015, <a href="http://humanprogress.org/static/3003">http://humanprogress.org/static/3003</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-050" href="#endnote-050-backlink">50</a></sup> “Total GDP,” Human Progress, 2017, <a href="http://humanprogress.org/story/3066">http://humanprogress.org/story/3066</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-051" href="#endnote-051-backlink">51</a></sup> Laili Wang, Xuemei Ding, Rui Huang, and Xiongying Wu, “Choices and Using of Washing Machines in Chinese Households,” <em>International Journal of Consumer Studies</em> 38, no. 1 (January 2014): 104–9.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-052" href="#endnote-052-backlink">52</a></sup> “Household Possession Rate of Washing Machines,” Euromonitor, Global Market Information Database, <a href="http://www.euromonitor.com/">http://www.euromonitor.com/</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-053" href="#endnote-053-backlink">53</a></sup> Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar, “Twenty-Five Years of Indian Economic Reform,” Cato Policy Analysis no. 803, October 26, 2016.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-054" href="#endnote-054-backlink">54</a></sup> “Total GDP,” Human Progress, 2017, <a href="http://humanprogress.org/story/3066">http://humanprogress.org/story/3066</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-055" href="#endnote-055-backlink">55</a></sup> Pramit Bhattacharya, “In India, Washing Machines Top Computers in Popularity,” <em>Livemint</em>, December 13, 2016, <a href="http://www.livemint.com/Specials/bhWpWqj3AFuETVdsC05fdM/In-India-washing-machines-top-computers-in-popularity.html">http://www.livemint.com/Specials/bhWpWqj3AFuETVdsC05fdM/In-India-washing-machines-top-computers-in-popularity.html</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-056" href="#endnote-056-backlink">56</a></sup> “2,000,000 Women Walked Away from Washday,” advertisement in <em>LIFE</em> <em>Magazine</em>, April 24, 1950, pp. 117–19.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-057" href="#endnote-057-backlink">57</a></sup> Toshiro Wakayama, Junjiro Shintaku, and Tomofumi Amano, “What Panasonic Learned in China,” <em>Harvard Business Review</em>, December 2012, <a href="https://hbr.org/2012/12/what-panasonic-learned-in-china">https://hbr.org/2012/12/what-panasonic-learned-in-china</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-058" href="#endnote-058-backlink">58</a></sup> Marian L. Tupy, “Africa Is Growing Thanks to Capitalism,” <em>CapX</em>, July 22, 2016.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-059" href="#endnote-059-backlink">59</a></sup> Nielson, “The Dirt on Cleaning: Home Cleaning/Laundry Attitudes and Trends around the World.”</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-060" href="#endnote-060-backlink">60</a></sup> Valerie A. Ramey, “Time Spent in Home Production in the 20th Century: New Estimates from Old Data,” NBER Working Paper no. 13985, National Bureau of Economic Research, May 2008.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-061" href="#endnote-061-backlink">61</a></sup> Ramey, “Time Spent in Home Production in the 20th Century,” p. 11.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-062" href="#endnote-062-backlink">62</a></sup> Ruth Schwartz Cowan, <em>More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave</em> (New York: Basic Books, 1983), p. 100, via Valerie A. Ramey, “Time Spent in Home Production in the 20th Century,” p. 2.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-063" href="#endnote-063-backlink">63</a></sup> Suzanne Lebsock, <em>The Free Women of Petersburg: Status and Culture in a Southern Town, 1784–1860</em>, rev. ed. (New York: W. W. Norton &amp; Company, 1985), p. xv.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-064" href="#endnote-064-backlink">64</a></sup> Quoted in George Frederick Kengott, <em>The Record of a City: A Social Survey of Lowell, Massachusetts</em> (Lowell: Macmillan Company, 1912), p. 15.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-065" href="#endnote-065-backlink">65</a></sup> Harriet J. Farley, “Factory Girls,” <em>The Lowell Offering</em> 2 (December 1840), pp. 17–20, <a href="https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.32044021216981;view=1up;seq=32">https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.32044021216981;view=1up;seq=32</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-066" href="#endnote-066-backlink">66</a></sup> Alice Kessler-Harris, <em>Out to Work: a History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States</em>, 20th anniversary ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), p. 34.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-067" href="#endnote-067-backlink">67</a></sup> Kessler-Harris, <em>Out to Work</em>, p. 34.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-068" href="#endnote-068-backlink">68</a></sup> Dublin, <em>Farm to Factory: Women’s Letters</em>,<em> 1830–1860</em>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-069" href="#endnote-069-backlink">69</a></sup> “The Fall of the Pemberton Mill,” <em>New York Times</em>, February 16, 1860.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-070" href="#endnote-070-backlink">70</a></sup> Dublin, <em>Farm to Factory: Women’s Letters</em>,<em> 1830–1860</em>, pp. 169, 180.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-071" href="#endnote-071-backlink">71</a></sup> Dublin, <em>Farm to Factory: Women’s Letters</em>, <em>1830–1860</em>, p. 157.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-072" href="#endnote-072-backlink">72</a></sup> Dublin, <em>Farm to Factory: Women’s Letters</em>, <em>1830–1860</em>, pp. 181, 192, 169.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-073" href="#endnote-073-backlink">73</a></sup> Dublin, <em>Farm to Factory: Women’s Letters</em>, <em>1830–1860</em>, pp. 97–8.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-074" href="#endnote-074-backlink">74</a></sup> Dublin, <em>Farm to Factory: Women’s Letters</em>,<em> 1830–1860</em>, p. 99.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-075" href="#endnote-075-backlink">75</a></sup> Lucy Larcom, <em>A New England Girlhood</em> (Teddington, UK: Echo Library, 2007).</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-076" href="#endnote-076-backlink">76</a></sup> Dublin, <em>Farm to Factory: Women’s Letters</em>,<em> 1830–1860</em>, pp. 129–30.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-077" href="#endnote-077-backlink">77</a></sup> Dublin, <em>Farm to Factory: Women’s Letters</em>,<em> 1830–1860</em>, p. 121.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-078" href="#endnote-078-backlink">78</a></sup> Dublin, <em>Farm to Factory: Women’s Letters</em>,<em> 1830–1860</em>, pp. 135-7.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-079" href="#endnote-079-backlink">79</a></sup> Dublin, <em>Farm to Factory: Women’s Letters</em>,<em> 1830–1860</em>, pp. 140–1.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-080" href="#endnote-080-backlink">80</a></sup> Dublin, <em>Farm to Factory: Women’s Letters</em>,<em> 1830–1860</em>, pp. 142–3.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-081" href="#endnote-081-backlink">81</a></sup> “Free to Booze: The 75th Anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition,” Cato Policy Forum, December 5, 2008, <a href="https://www.cato.org/events/free-booze-75th-anniversary-repeal-prohibition">https://www.cato.org/events/free-booze-75th-anniversary-repeal-prohibition</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-082" href="#endnote-082-backlink">82</a></sup> Robert J. Dinkin, <em>Before Equal Suffrage: Women in Partisan Politics from Colonial Times to 1920</em> (London: Greenwood Press, 1995), p. 40.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-083" href="#endnote-083-backlink">83</a></sup> Dinkin, <em>Before Equal Suffrage</em>, p. 42.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-084" href="#endnote-084-backlink">84</a></sup> Lebsock, <em>The Free Women of Petersburg</em>, p. 240.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-085" href="#endnote-085-backlink">85</a></sup> Linton Weeks, “American Women Who Were Anti-Suffragettes,” National Public Radio, October 22, 2015.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-086" href="#endnote-086-backlink">86</a></sup> Sylvia Jenkins Cook, “‘Oh Dear! How the Factory Girls Do Rig Up!’: Lowell’s Self-Fashioning Workingwomen,” <em>New England Quarterly</em> 83, no. 2 (June 2010): 219–49.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-087" href="#endnote-087-backlink">87</a></sup> “Eliza Lucas Pinckney, British-American Plantation Manager,” Encyclopædia Britannica, <a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Elizabeth-Pinckney">https://www.britannica.com/biography/Elizabeth-Pinckney</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-088" href="#endnote-088-backlink">88</a></sup> Dylan C. Penningroth, <em>The Claims of Kinfolk: African American Property and Community in the Nineteenth-Century South</em> (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), p. 53.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-089" href="#endnote-089-backlink">89</a></sup> The United States Census of 1860 suggests 12.6 percent of the country’s population was enslaved. See “Recapitulation of the Tables of Population, Nativity, and Occupation,” 1860 Census: Population of the United States, <a href="https://www.census.gov/library/publications/1864/dec/1860a.html">https://www.census.gov/library/publications/1864/dec/1860a.html</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-090" href="#endnote-090-backlink">90</a></sup> Lebsock, <em>The Free Women of Petersburg</em>, p. 244.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-091" href="#endnote-091-backlink">91</a></sup> Martha Louise Rayne, <em>What Can a Woman Do: Or, Her Position in the Business and Literary World</em> (Detroit: F. B. Dickerson, 1887).</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-092" href="#endnote-092-backlink">92</a></sup> Howard Markel, “Celebrating Rebecca Lee Crumpler, First African-American Woman Physician,” PBS News Hour, March 9, 2016, <a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/celebrating-rebecca-lee-crumpler-first-african-american-physician/">http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/celebrating-rebecca-lee-crumpler-first-african-american-physician/</a>; and “Charlotte E. Ray: American Lawyer and Teacher,” Encyclopædia Britannica, <a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Charlotte-E-Ray">https://www.britannica.com/biography/Charlotte-E-Ray</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-093" href="#endnote-093-backlink">93</a></sup> Annie Marion MacLean, <em>Wage-Earning Women</em> (New York: MacMillan, 1910), p. 3.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-094" href="#endnote-094-backlink">94</a></sup> Claudia Goldin, “The Quiet Revolution That Transformed Women’s Employment, Education, and Family,” Richard T. Ely Lecture, <em>AEA Papers and Proceedings</em> 96, no. 2 (May 2006), <a href="https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/goldin/files/the_quiet_revolution_that_transformed_womens_employment_education_and_family.pdf">https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/goldin/files/the_quiet_revolution_that_transformed_womens_employment_education_and_family.pdf</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-095" href="#endnote-095-backlink">95</a></sup> “Indeed, the idea that paid employment [is] the key to ending women’s subordinate status [has been] subscribed to by a wide spectrum of opinion, from the World Bank to Marxist scholars,” Naila Kabeer, <em>The Power to Choose: Bangladeshi Women and Labour Market Decisions in London and Dhaka</em> (London: Verso, 2000), p. 5.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-096" href="#endnote-096-backlink">96</a></sup> Benjamin Powell, <em>Out of Poverty: Sweatshops in the Global Economy</em> (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), p. 120.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-097" href="#endnote-097-backlink">97</a></sup> McCloskey, “Postmodern Market Feminism: Half of a Conversation with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak,” p. 29.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-098" href="#endnote-098-backlink">98</a></sup> Nicholas Kristof, “Where Sweatshops Are a Dream,” <em>New York Times</em>, January 14, 2009.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-099" href="#endnote-099-backlink">99</a></sup> Paul Krugman, “In Praise of Cheap Labor,” <em>Slate</em>, March 1997; Kristof, “Where Sweatshops Are a Dream”; and Jeffrey Sachs, <em>The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time</em> (New York: Penguin Press, 2005), p. 11.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-100" href="#endnote-100-backlink">100</a></sup> Paul Krugman, quoted in Allen R. Myerson, “In Principle, a Case for More Sweatshops,” <em>New York Times</em>, June 22, 1997.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-101" href="#endnote-101-backlink">101</a></sup> Leslie T. Chang, “The Voices of Chinese Workers,” TED Talk, June 2012, <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks/leslie_t_chang_the_voices_of_china_s_workers#t-66532">https://www.ted.com/talks/leslie_t_chang_the_voices_of_china_s_workers#t-66532</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-102" href="#endnote-102-backlink">102</a></sup> Chang, “The Voices of Chinese Workers.”</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-103" href="#endnote-103-backlink">103</a></sup> This section draws largely on her work.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-104" href="#endnote-104-backlink">104</a></sup> Chang, “The Voices of Chinese Workers.”</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-105" href="#endnote-105-backlink">105</a></sup> Leslie T. Chang, <em>Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China</em> (New York: Spiegel &amp; Grau, 2009).</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-106" href="#endnote-106-backlink">106</a></sup> Chang, <em>Factory Girls</em>, p. 57.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-107" href="#endnote-107-backlink">107</a></sup> “Women and Suicide in Rural China,” Bulletin of the World Health Organization, <a href="http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/87/12/09-011209/en/">http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/87/12/09-011209/en/.</a></p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-108" href="#endnote-108-backlink">108</a></sup> “Back from the Edge,” <em>The Economist</em>, June 28, 2014; and Feng Sha, Paul S. F. Yip, and Yik Wa Law, “Decomposing Change in China’s Suicide Rate, 1990–2010: Ageing and Urbanisation,” <em>Injury Prevention: Journal of the International Society for Child and Adolescent Injury Prevention</em> 23, no. 1 (2017): 40–45, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27312962">https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27312962</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-109" href="#endnote-109-backlink">109</a></sup> “Women and Suicide in Rural China.”</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-110" href="#endnote-110-backlink">110</a></sup> Yuan Ren, “Young Chinese Women Are Committing Suicide at a Terrifying Rate — Here’s Why,” <em>The Telegraph</em>, October 20, 2016, <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/young-chinese-women-are-committing-suicide-at-a-terrifying-rate/">https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/young-chinese-women-are-committing-suicide-at-a-terrifying-rate/</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-111" href="#endnote-111-backlink">111</a></sup> Jie Zhang, “Marriage and Suicide among Chinese Rural Young Women,” <em>Social Forces</em> 89, no. 1 (September 2010): 319, 321.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-112" href="#endnote-112-backlink">112</a></sup> Zhang, “Marriage and Suicide among Chinese Rural Young Women,” pp. 319, 323.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-113" href="#endnote-113-backlink">113</a></sup> Chang, <em>Factory Girls</em>, p. 105.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-114" href="#endnote-114-backlink">114</a></sup> “Back from the Edge,” <em>The Economist</em>, June 28, 2014.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-115" href="#endnote-115-backlink">115</a></sup> Chang, <em>Factory Girls</em>, p. 27.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-116" href="#endnote-116-backlink">116</a></sup> Chang, <em>Factory Girls</em>, p. 280.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-117" href="#endnote-117-backlink">117</a></sup> Chang, <em>Factory Girls</em>, p. 279.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-118" href="#endnote-118-backlink">118</a></sup> Chang, <em>Factory Girls</em>, p. 404.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-119" href="#endnote-119-backlink">119</a></sup> Zhongdang Ma, “Urban Labour-Force Experience as a Determinant of Rural Occupation Change: Evidence from Recent Urban–Rural Return Migration in China,” <em>Environment and Planning</em> 33, no. 2 (February 2001): 237–55.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-120" href="#endnote-120-backlink">120</a></sup> Leslie T. Chang, “U.S. Misses Full Truth on China Factory Workers,” CNN, October 1, 2012, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2012/09/30/opinion/chang-chinese-factory-workers/index.html">https://www.cnn.com/2012/09/30/opinion/chang-chinese-factory-workers/index.html</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-121" href="#endnote-121-backlink">121</a></sup> Chang, <em>Factory Girls</em>, p. 224.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-122" href="#endnote-122-backlink">122</a></sup> Chang, <em>Factory Girls</em>, p. 333.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-123" href="#endnote-123-backlink">123</a></sup> Chang, <em>Factory Girls</em>, p. 383.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-124" href="#endnote-124-backlink">124</a></sup> Chang, <em>Factory Girls</em>, p. 383.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-125" href="#endnote-125-backlink">125</a></sup> Kabeer, <em>The Power to Choose</em>, p. 49. Please note, this section draws largely on her findings.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-126" href="#endnote-126-backlink">126</a></sup> “Globally There Are 746 Million People in Extreme Poverty (in 2013),” Our World in Data, 2013, <a href="https://ourworldindata.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Tree-Map-of-Extreme-Poverty-distribution-750x525.png">https://ourworldindata.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Tree-Map-of-Extreme-Poverty-distribution-750x525.png</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-127" href="#endnote-127-backlink">127</a></sup> Kabeer, <em>The Power to Choose</em>, p. 185.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-128" href="#endnote-128-backlink">128</a></sup> Kabeer, <em>The Power to Choose</em>, p. 69.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-129" href="#endnote-129-backlink">129</a></sup> Kabeer, <em>The Power to Choose</em>, p. 69.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-130" href="#endnote-130-backlink">130</a></sup> “In Bangladesh, Empowering and Employing Women in the Garments Sector,” World Bank, February 7, 2017, <a href="http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2017/02/07/in-bangladesh-empowering-and-employing-women-in-the-garments-sector">http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2017/02/07/in-bangladesh-empowering-and-employing-women-in-the-garments-sector</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-131" href="#endnote-131-backlink">131</a></sup> Powell, <em>Out of Poverty: Sweatshops in the Global Economy</em>; and Kabeer<em>, The Power to Choose</em>, p. 9.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-132" href="#endnote-132-backlink">132</a></sup> Ben Jackson, <em>Threadbare: How the Rich Stitch Up the World’s Rag Trade</em> (London: World Development Movement, 1992), cited in Kabeer, <em>The Power to Choose</em>, p. 9.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-133" href="#endnote-133-backlink">133</a></sup> Quoted in Kabeer, <em>The Power to Choose</em>, p. 13.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-134" href="#endnote-134-backlink">134</a></sup> Daniel J. Ikenson, “Cutting the Cord: Textile Trade Policy Needs Tough Love,” Cato Institute Free Trade Bulletin no. 15, January 25, 2005, <a href="https://www.cato.org/publications/free-trade-bulletin/cutting-cord-textile-trade-policy-needs-tough-love">https://www.cato.org/publications/free-trade-bulletin/cutting-cord-textile-trade-policy-needs-tough-love</a>; and “Harmonized Tariff Schedule (2018 HTSA Revision 11), Section XI: Textile and Textile Articles,” United States International Trade Commission, <a href="https://hts.usitc.gov/current">https://hts.usitc.gov/current</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-135" href="#endnote-135-backlink">135</a></sup> “The Happiest Economic Story in the World Right Now,” <em>Dhaka Tribune</em>, June 4, 2017, <a href="http://www.dhakatribune.com/what-the-world-says/2017/06/04/happiest-economic-story-world-right-now/">http://www.dhakatribune.com/what-the-world-says/2017/06/04/happiest-economic-story-world-right-now/</a>; Rachel Heath and A. Mushfiq Mobarak, “Manufacturing Growth and the Lives of Bangladeshi Women,” NBER Working Paper no. 20383, August 2014; and “Average Age of Women at First Marriage,” Human Progress, <a href="http://humanprogress.org/story/2245">http://humanprogress.org/story/2245</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-136" href="#endnote-136-backlink">136</a></sup> “Women Who Were First Married by Age 18,” Human Progress, <a href="https://humanprogress.org/dwline?p=103&amp;c0=64&amp;yf=1985&amp;yl=2016&amp;high=1">https://humanprogress.org/dwline?p=103&amp;c0=64&amp;yf=1985&amp;yl=2016&amp;high=1</a>; and “Average Age of Women at First Marriage.”</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-137" href="#endnote-137-backlink">137</a></sup> Saidur Rahman Mashreky, Fazlur Rahman, and Aminur Rahman, “Suicide Kills More than 10,000 People Every Year in Bangladesh,” <em>Archives of Suicide Research</em> 17, no. 4 (August 2013): 387–96.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-138" href="#endnote-138-backlink">138</a></sup> Afroze Shahnaz, Christopher Bagley, Padam Simkhada, and Sadia Kadri, “Suicidal Behaviour in Bangladesh: A Scoping Literature Review and a Proposed Public Health Prevention Model,” <em>Journal of Social Sciences</em> 5, no. 7 (July 2017): 254–82.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-139" href="#endnote-139-backlink">139</a></sup> “Suicide Mortality Rate (per 100,000 Population),” World Bank, <a href="https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.SUIC.P5?locations=BD">https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.SUIC.P5?locations=BD</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-140" href="#endnote-140-backlink">140</a></sup> Quoted in Kabeer, <em>The Power to Choose</em>, p. 175.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-141" href="#endnote-141-backlink">141</a></sup> Kabeer, <em>The Power to Choose</em>, p. 92.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-142" href="#endnote-142-backlink">142</a></sup> Kabeer, <em>The Power to Choose</em>, p. 142.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-143" href="#endnote-143-backlink">143</a></sup> Paul Ratje, “Domestic Violence in Bangladesh — in Pictures,” <em>The Guardian</em>, March 15, 2016, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/gallery/2016/mar/15/domestic-violence-in-bangladesh-in-pictures">https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/gallery/2016/mar/15/domestic-violence-in-bangladesh-in-pictures</a>.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-144" href="#endnote-144-backlink">144</a></sup> Kabeer, <em>The Power to Choose</em>, p. 128.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-145" href="#endnote-145-backlink">145</a></sup> Kabeer, <em>The Power to Choose</em>, p. 185.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-146" href="#endnote-146-backlink">146</a></sup> Kabeer, <em>The Power to Choose</em>, p. 172.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-147" href="#endnote-147-backlink">147</a></sup> Quoted in Kabeer, <em>The Power to Choose</em>, p. 171.</p> <p><sup><a id="endnote-148" href="#endnote-148-backlink">148</a></sup> Kabeer, <em>The Power to Choose</em>, p. 185.</p> </div> Mon, 17 Dec 2018 03:00:00 -0500 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/how-markets-empower-women-innovation-market-participation-transform If You Thought Scrooge Was Bad, Consider the Victorian Home https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/you-thought-scrooge-was-bad-consider-victorian-home Chelsea Follett <div class="lead text-default"> <p>We <a href="https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/victorian-christmas-traditions" target="_blank">owe</a> many popular Christmas traditions to Victorian England, from carols and decorated trees to gift-giving. These cheerful traditions stand in stark contrast with our recognition of the nightmarish working conditions at the time. In Charles Dickens’ <em>A Christmas Carol</em>, for example, the miserly businessman Ebenezer Scrooge exemplifies the alleged spirit of the Victorian age: heartlessness, he maintains, is good for business.</p> </div> , <div class="text-default"> <p>Underneath the veneer of destitution and exploitation of the era, however, things were changing for the better. The unlikely and seldom acknowledged benefactor of the poor in 19th century Britain was the factory.</p> <p>When asked to picture a scene of horrifying working conditions during the Victorian era, most people conjure up the image of a 19th century factory. Yet the life of a housemaid was, at that time, far bleaker than that of most “factory girls.” That is one of many surprising insights that can be found in Judith Flanders’ fascinating <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Inside-Victorian-Home-Portrait-Domestic/dp/0393327639" target="_blank">book</a>, <em>Inside the Victorian Home</em>: factories helped improve working conditions, especially for women.</p> <p></p> </div> , <aside class="aside--right aside pb-lg-0 pt-lg-2"> <div class="pullquote pullquote--default"> <div class="pullquote__content h2"> <p>Why, for young women especially, factory work was preferable to domestic labor in Dickensian times.</p> </div> </div> </aside> , <div class="text-default"> <p>In 1851, one in three women between the ages of 15 and 24 in London worked as a domestic servant. Their work was often excruciating, and it is no wonder that many of them rushed at the opportunity to join factories and leave domestic service.</p> <p>First, consider how health conditions differed for factory and domestic workers. An average housemaid “had less fresh air than a factory worker,” according to Flanders. The kitchens and sculleries of well-to-do Victorian homes, where the servants spent much of their time, were particularly unhygienic. Rats were tolerated, as servants focused their efforts on the more numerous threat: bugs. The typical “kitchen floor at night palpitate[d] with a living carpet” of cockroaches, and the typical kitchen ceiling was crawling with beetles. When the author Beatrix Potter visited her grandparents’ home in the summer of 1886, her servants “had to sit on the kitchen table [while working], as the floor heaved with cockroaches.”</p> <p>As if the health hazards weren’t bad enough, consider the exhausting working hours. A typical housemaid “did at least twelve hours of heavy physical labor every day, which was two hours more than a factory worker (four hours more on Saturdays).” Also, unlike most factory workers, house servants rarely had Sundays off. A typical servant’s workday began at six o’clock in the morning <em>at the latest</em>, no later than five-thirty in the summer, and didn’t end until ten at night — at the earliest. Working from five in the morning until midnight was not unheard of. Servants faced an almost impossible-to-complete list of daily tasks that left practically no time to eat, rest, or clean their own quarters, let alone engage in leisure activities.</p> <p>A “maid-of-all-work” or “general servant” might begin the day by drawing the home’s curtains and opening the shutters, cleaning the household’s grate, fire irons and fender, and then lighting the hearth fire. She might then dust the furniture and strew used tea leaves over the carpets to collect dust, then sweep them up again. She might sweep the hall, front steps and entrance, shaking out the rugs, and scrubbing and washing the floor — which was a laborious process before the invention of modern cleaning products. She would empty the fireplaces of cinders, ending up covered in soot. And that was just the early morning work! A moment’s idleness was not tolerated. While cruel factory foremen may loom large in the public imagination, physical punishment of servants was common.</p> <p>But contra Scrooge, cruelty was often bad business — and certainly bad for employee retention. As factory work became more widespread, it improved working conditions for house servants too, as employers competed for women’s labor. Employers were “forced to slowly improve servants’ working conditions” or risk losing all their servants to the factories. In 1872, one Victorian complained “that it was now necessary… to allow their maids to go to bed at ten o’clock every night, and to give them an afternoon out every other Sunday, or no servant would stay.”</p> <p>Today as well, in industrializing countries, the same story of improving working conditions is repeating. Social economist Naila Kabeer of the London School of Economics has <a href="https://www.versobooks.com/books/727-the-power-to-choose" target="_blank">found</a> that for women in Bangladesh, “factory work [has] offered higher returns, better working conditions and greater dignity than they had obtained from personalized, isolated and menial forms of labor previously available to them” such as domestic service.</p> <p><em>A Christmas Carol</em> ends with a newly reformed Scrooge raising an employee’s salary as an act of kindness. Historically, the higher salaries and improved conditions of Victorian workers were largely driven by industrialization. Those who imagine that poor working conditions originated with the Industrial Revolution should consider the difficulties faced by many house servants. While 19th century factory work was harsh compared to the post-industrial prosperity enjoyed by many today, factories ultimately helped to improve working conditions for Victorian women — and continue to do so for many women today.</p> </div> Wed, 12 Dec 2018 15:02:00 -0500 Chelsea Follett https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/you-thought-scrooge-was-bad-consider-victorian-home