Tax is a feminist issue: Why national budgets need to take gender into account

Source: The Economist, February 23, 2017

Designing fiscal policies to support gender equality is good for growth.

….Like many rich-country governments, Britain’s prides itself on pursuing policies that promote sexual equality. However, it fails to live up to its word, argues the Women’s Budget Group, a feminist think-tank that has been scrutinising Britain’s economic policy since 1989. A report in 2016 from the House of Commons Library, an impartial research service, suggests that in 2010-15 women bore the cost of 85% of savings to the Treasury worth £23bn ($29bn) from austerity measures, specifically cuts in welfare benefits and in direct taxes. Because women earn less, rely more on benefits, and are much more likely than men to be single parents, the cuts affected them disproportionately…. For instance, if the British government diverted investment worth 2% of GDP from construction to the care sector, it could create 1.5m jobs instead of 750,000. Many governments treat spending on physical infrastructure as an investment, but spending on social infrastructure, such as child care, as a cost. Yet such spending also increases productivity and growth—partly by increasing the number of women in the workforce….