Monday, 5 December 2011

Inequality and Its Perverse Effects from The Help to Rising Birth Rates among Educated Women

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is in the news this morning because of the report it has just published Divided We Stand: Wby Inequality Keeps Rising. The report's analysis ranks countries by economic inequality, showing that in Canada it has increased markedly in recent years, although things are still considerably better than the US. The effect is due to a widening disparity in labour earnings between high- and low-paid workers, and less redistribution through taxes.

The Globe and Mail reports:

"The average income of the top 10 per cent of Canadians in 2008 was $103,500 – 10 times than that of the bottom 10 per cent, who had an average income of $10,260, an increase from a ratio of 8 to 1 in the early 1990s....At the same time, the top federal marginal income tax rates tumbled – to 29 per cent in 2010 from 43 per cent in 1981."

Last week the Globe had a story which must be read in tandem with this. It details how educated women are having more children in the US than in Canada. One of the many reasons, it seems, is because the growing divide between the wealthy and the poor in the US "has created both a class of women who can afford to hire help in their homes and a pool of workers who are willing to provide it cheaply...

"Because wages of unskilled workers have fallen for the past 30 years in the U.S. (30 per cent by some estimates), favourably employed working parents can afford to hire housekeepers and nannies – and they can afford to have more children as well."

What a sorry state of affairs. The report, please note, comes at a time when The Help by Katherine Stockett about African American maids and their employers in the 1960s is still on best seller lists and the movie from the novel is making waves. Not much has changed, except the maids now may be from foreign countries.

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