Ivanka is Wrong on "Women's Issues"

Helen  Raleigh
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Posted: Jul 24, 2016 12:01 AM
Ivanka is Wrong on "Women's Issues"

Ivanka Trump delivered a solid speech on Thursday night. She was warm, articulate and poised. During the last 10 minutes of her speech, however, she touched on the gender pay gap issue by citing the same popular yet misleading statistics that Democrats have been using for years:

 "In 2014, women made 83 cents for every dollar made by a man. Single women without children earn 94 cents for each dollar earned by a man, whereas married mothers made only 77 cents."

These statistics cited by Ivanka do not take many variables such as hours worked, type of works, experiences, education etc. into account. Economist Mark Perry concluded that the only way to arrive the "women made only 77 cents" statistic is "by comparing raw, aggregate, unadjusted full-time median salaries."

In another word, these numbers aren't comparing equal work performed side by side by men vs. women. Through study after study, numerous economists have pointed out the fallacy in these numbers. Back in 2009, a Department of Labor's study determined that "the differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers."

Even some organizations on the left reached similar conclusions after conducting analyses on their own. For example, in 2012, the American Association of University of Women (AAUW) published its own study on the gender pay gap between male and female college graduates one year after graduation. After controlling for some relevant factors such as occupation, college major etc., they did discover a wage gap - 6.6 cents, which is statistically insignificant and hardly an earth shattering figure.  

By recycling the same misleading statistics during a prime time TV slot at the Republican National Convention, Ivanka reinforced a false narrative. Furthermore, since she is such an effective communicator, she just made it so much hard for conservatives to fight back the myth of gender pay gap.

In her speech, Ivanka also touched on the cost of childcare. She is right that hiring someone to take care of your bundle of joy has become more expensive every year. In some states, daycare for an infant costs more than 15 percent of the median married couple's income. There's no doubt that child care has become so unaffordable for many working mothers, that they have no choice but to quit their jobs so they can take care of their children.  

In a 2013 article appearing in The Atlantic, Jordan Weissmann explained that government regulation has been the main culprit responsible for the rising cost of childcare.  The actual wages of childcare providers have been stagnant and they make less today in real terms (adjusted for inflation) than they did in the 1990s. But the compliance cost to run a childcare center has skyrocketed. Childcare is such a heavily regulated industry that it is subject to almost every kind of regulation imaginable under the sun. For example, some states require one caregiver for every two children; some states require that each child have 25 square feet of space. Weissmann concluded that, "as the rules have become more elaborate, prices have risen."

This is a great opportunity for Ivanka to propose that  in order to make childcare more affordable, a conservative principle based solution is less government regulations, more competition in a free and open market.  Instead, she promised that a Trump presidency "will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all." It sounds like she was advocating more government involvement to provide "affordable" childcare.  No wonder many people on twitter questioned whether her speech was meant for the Democrat National Convention in Philadelphia next week. 

It was widely reported that one of the main objectives of Ivanka's speech was to help Trump reach out to women voters. As a woman voter, I reject the label that some issues are particularly "women issues" i.e. child care. To me, that is demeaning. There's no such thing as "women's issues." I care about the state of our economy, government regulations, immigration reform, national security and foreign policies like any other voters.

Under a normal circumstance, we shouldn't scrutinize Ivanka's remarks. After all, she is not running for president. However, almost everyone is certain that she is Trump's most trusted adviser and Trump is running for president. So her remarks may reflect the policy direction that Trump could take should he become the President of United States. Therefore, a rebuttal of some of Ivanka's remarks became necessary.