Truths, Half-Truths, and Extinction: The Hidden Face of The Economist

A Guide to Womenomics,” The Economist, 12 April 2006, pg 73, (from Sean Meade at TPMB).

A plan whose success involves your own extermination, whose concept of strategy is limited to high-kinetic conflict, whose description of stability operations is building-guarding, is one doomed to failure.

That’s why the recent Economist article on women and work should be read suspiciously. The piece is a slipshod collection of half-truths and deceptions in support of social experiments that destroy the nations which adopt them.

And you thought The Economist was just a girlie magazine.

The Economist: More Than Just Booth Babes

I. The Economist on the Value of Education

“WHY can’t a woman be more like a man?” mused Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady”. Future generations might ask why a man can’t be more like a woman. In rich countries, girls now do better at school than boys, more women are getting university degrees than men are and females are filling most new jobs. Arguably, women are now the most powerful engine of global growth.

If, however. the editors of The Economist had read tdaxp, they would know that, statistically, white American women do not enter college for higher earning opportunities. Of all ethnic-sex groups, only latin women earn less from higher education than white women.


Chart of Income Among American College Educated Women by Race

For a substantial fraction of women, the purpose of college appears to be social life or an “Mrs” degree. The Economist might as well be talking about widespread female education, because of the popularity of manner schools. Of course, that context of that fact is inconvenient, so the magazine does not mention it.

II. The Economist and the Value of Work

Later, the article confuses itself in its economics. Discussing female entry into “paid work,” The Economist notes

over the past decade or so, the increased employment of women in developed economies has contributed much more to global growth than China has.

In other words, value unpaid work at $0, value paid work at the going rate, and — unsurprisingly — paid work is valued more. (Not that it’s surprising for some not to value unpaid work.)

III. The Economist and Styles of Work

A more serious criticism is found in the articles myopic materialism:

To some extent, the increase in female paid employment has meant fewer hours of unpaid housework. However, the value of housework has fallen by much less than the time spent on it, because of the increased productivity afforded by dishwashers, washing machines and so forth. Paid nannies and cleaners employed by working women now also do some work that used to belong in the non-market economy.

It boggles the mind how wrong this is. America, and the rest of the Old Core, is a capital-rich, labor-poor society. This style of economy is very sensitive to the quality of the workforce. Yet The Economist dismisses the purpose of “housework” as somehow centering on “dishwashers, washing machines and so forth” instead of standing up the next generation. This would be like the US Military ceasing training of Iraqi Police officers, because their hygienic needs can be easily taken care of by “dishwashers, washing machines and so forth.”

What The Economist calls paid work is a high-kinetics, low-network-density activity. Likewise, what our British publishing pals call “housework” is lower kinetic but higher density work. Trying to find an essentially Phase III (Combat Operations) force to do a Phase IV job (Nation Building) — what The Economist suggested by its quick reference to “paid nannies” — is as insane as having the US Military rebuild the society of a middle eastern nation.

By focusing on monetized gains at the expense of social capital, The Economist is like a general that advocates just blowing things up instead of transitioning to a civilian reconstruction force.

IV. The Economist and Population Implosion

As if that was not bad enough, The Economist wants to lull us into extinction:

It is sometimes argued that it is shortsighted to get more women into paid employment. The more women go out to work, it is said, the fewer children there will be and the lower growth will be in the long run. Yet the facts suggest otherwise. Chart 3 shows that countries with high female labour participation rates, such as Sweden, tend to have higher fertility rates than Germany, Italy and Japan, where fewer women work. Indeed, the decline in fertility has been greatest in several countries where female employment is low.

What the article fails to mention is that Sweden has a death rate higher than the birth rate (0.31 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.) compared to 10.27 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)). America, by contrast and more primitive in the eyes of The Economist, has a birth rate higher than its death rate (8.26 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.) compared to 14.14 births/1,000 population (2006 est.))


It seems that if higher female labour participation is supported by the right policies, it need not reduce fertility. To make full use of their national pools of female talent, governments need to remove obstacles that make it hard for women to combine work with having children. This may mean offering parental leave and child care, allowing more flexible working hours, and reforming tax and social-security systems that create disincentives for women to work.

That might be comforting, if such policies were correlated to higher fertility. Yet as Old Europe has expanded “maternity” services, actual maternities have fallen. The Economist enjoys mentioning corollaries when it suits it in this “finance & economics” article, but not when it’s an inconvenient fact.

V. The Economist and Politically Motivated “News”

Though The Economist is based in London, it is trying to change into a leading American newsmagazine. Apparently, part of its transition is social agenda fluff pieces disguised as news and analysis.