HR Strange But True!
January 06, 2010
A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) puts the blame on U.S. tax reforms for making homes messier nationwide.

Two NBER scholars researched the case in the name of hard-working, single mothers everywhere. Alexander Gelber, associate professor of business and public policy at the University of Pennsylvania, did a little "house-cleaning" of documented policy changes to kindle his investigation. Lurking beneath the clutter he discovered a series of policy reforms from the 1980s and 1990s which were enacted to help single mothers out of welfare and into the workforce.

Additionally, he found that the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) encouraged low-income women to enter paying jobs by refunding the tax the women paid on their earnings as well as reducing the payroll tax for employers. However, upon analyzing time-allocation studies from 1975 to 2004, Gelber and Joshua Mitchell of Harvard’s doctoral fellowship found that for every hour worked by single mothers outside the home in response to lower taxes, the time they spent on housework decreased by about 47 minutes. (The time that these single moms spent with their children did not decrease and time spent on leisure activities or sleep decreased only slightly, the study found.)

“There was a perception that these mothers were idle and it would be good to get them to be productive. Our study suggests they have traded one kind of productive activity for another,” said Gelber in an interview with Time Magazine.

The study’s authors did not indicate whether they believe the trend of more paid work and less housework was a good or bad one. “That's up to policymakers to decide, according to their values,” said Gelber.

Source: Time Magazine

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