Economic inequality and the stalled progress toward gender equality
Women’s participation in the formal economy increased for decades after the 1960s but stalled in the late 1990s. Researchers aren’t sure why this happened, but professors Cohen and Kleykamp propose one possible answer: rising inequality. As income inequality has increased, the pay-off to investing in children has increased as well, making it more attractive to have one parent stay at home—usually the mother. Rising work hours among women has had a large effect on economic growth. U.S. gross domestic product in 2012 would have been 11 percent lower if not for the rising working hours of women. If Cohen and Kleykamp’s hypothesis is right, then rising inequality has held back women’s entrance into the labor market and significantly slowed down American economic growth.