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Reality Check: Women Are Worse off in 'Democratic Socialist' Countries

July 30, 2018 in Economics

By Vanessa Brown Calder

Vanessa Brown Calder

In light of self-professed “democratic socialist”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s primary election results, the term
“democratic socialism” has been bandied about a lot
recently. Not least of all on “The View” this week,
where Meghan McCain argued with Joy Behar about normalizing it.

When McCain pressed Behar for an example of a democratic
socialist country that was successful, she listed five Nordic
countries: Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland, and Denmark. Those
countries are better described as social democracies, with
relatively free economies paired with generous redistributive
social welfare programs. That is, these countries aren’t
examples of socialism that “works.”

Why does this distinction matter? Notably, Ocasio-Cortez’s
vision of a world where capitalism “will not always
exist” and her Bernie-esque policy prescriptions including
government job guarantees and doubling the federal minimum wage
actually lie to the left of Scandinavian countries economically.
Proponents like Behar often don’t realize that replicating
the Scandinavian system would require not only increasing
redistribution, but also increasing economic freedom —
something that is seemingly not at the top of either Behar or
Ocasio-Cortez’s policy wish-list.

Indeed, the United States
surpasses the Nordic countries and other western European countries
on a variety of metrics.

That aside, the generous redistribution Behar favors in Nordic
countries hasn’t resulted in all roses for women: there are
trade-offs. In a recent report, “The Nordic Glass
Ceiling,” Swedish author Nima Sanandaji outlines
“several aspects of Nordic social policies [that] have
negatively affected women’s career progress and even
contributed to a glass ceiling” for working women.

Policies including public-sector monopolies, punishing taxes,
publicly funded child care and parental leave, and even ineffective
gender quotas have held back Nordic women’s career
trajectories. Sanandaji argues that, as a result, “the
proportion of women managers, executives, and business owners is
disappointingly low.”

Indeed, the United States surpasses the Nordic countries and
other western European countries on a variety of metrics. OECD data
shows that 14.6 percent of U.S. working women are managers, while
in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, just between 1 and 4.6
percent of working women are managers. Overall, women in the United
States are about equally likely as men to be managers, while women
are only half as likely as men to be managers in western OECD
countries overall.

As Sanandaji stresses in his report, redistributive policies and
high taxes in the Nordic countries push women to be
“part-time workers and part-time housewives” partly
because Nordic career women “find it harder to afford
domestic help than their American equivalents” due to high
taxes and perhaps partly because substantial redistribution
including lengthy parental leave makes women more expensive to
employ and leads to statistical discrimination at work. Working a
part-time schedule usually doesn’t qualify workers for
promotions …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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