April 14, 2016

Increasing GDP Through Gender Parity

When it comes to arguments in support of workplace gender equality, proponents typically describe the issues in terms of fundamental fairness. However, there is another approach currently afoot that is centered more around economic common sense.

The McKinsey Global Institute has released a report suggesting that the GDP of the United States could grow by an additional $2.1 trillion in just 20 years’ time if individual states made efforts to boost the female rate of workforce participation, raise their number of work hours and encourage them to enter employment sectors with greater productivity. The earning potential of American women has long been hampered by their traditional performance of nearly twice the amount of unpaid care taking than men, such as child rearing, housekeeping and more.

The assessment from McKinsey argues that states need to be emulating the progress on such issues that has been achieved by states including New York, Texas and North Carolina if the nation’s true potential is to be fully tapped.

Addressing the gulf in these areas could grow U.S. GDP by at least 5% in all states, with half of the country likely able to grow by no less than 10%, states the report. Of course, to achieve these goals, the country’s leadership must take steps to pump approximately $475 billion into the economy for the creation of over 6 million jobs and to pay for the child care services necessary to allow for the GDP-boosting workforce participation of women.

When analyzed in comparison with other nations, the United States is characterized by relatively low to moderate levels of overall gender disparity in terms of actual workforce presence, the number of women in professional roles and their degree of educational attainment. However, the United States ranks much higher on the inequality scale for things such as the number of women in leadership roles, the amount of unpaid care taking they do and their degree of political representation. The rates of teen pregnancy, single parenthood and other factors have also contributed to these disparities, the study reveals.

The primary author of the McKinsey study emphasizes that it will remain impossible to harness the $2 trillion potential, provided these societal gulfs are not directly addressed.

Issues of gender inequality have taken center stage in the current presidential race. Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton has argued that the economic well-being of American families depends on eliminating pay disparities based on gender, as have key members of the Obama administration.

Peter Nyiri