Leslie Bennetts writes that SAHM have dug themselves in a financial hole. They have no chance of finding work after taking off time to raise their kids, and it's especially tough during a recession. She points to one wretch of a woman who failed to attend Bennetts book party two years ago and is suffering now that her husband left her. It's almost breath-taking in its nastiness.
Guess what The New York Times has just discovered? Women who quit their
careers to stay home can face financial challenges if a recession hits
and their husbands lose their jobs! And—gasp!—when these women try to
re-enter the labor force after a timeout, it’s hard for them to find
work, and they earn far less than they did when they left!
Elizabeth had a great review of her book a couple years ago. It's nice to see that Bennetts hasn't mellowed at all.
In the Daily Beast, Bennetts argues that staying at home with kids is dangerous. It leaves you without any safety net, if your husband loses his job or if he takes off with the secretary. This is hardly a news flash. Ann Crittenden
discussed these risks with a lot more compassion and subtlety than Bennett.
Crittenden says yes this is true, but it shouldn't be. Women can protect themselves with post-nups, and the business world has to change to hire women with more gaps on their resume. In fact, there is some evidence that they are doing so.
Interestingly, Elizabeth Warren
argued that two-income families were actually more vulnerable during recessions than one-income families. When both individuals work, they spend it all. Warren argues, they feel pressured to buy the expensive house in a good school district. If one loses their job, they are screwed. In contrast, if the primary bread earner loses his/her job in one-income family, the at-home partner can run out to get a job to cover the expenses until the higher earner gets back on his/her feet. One lesson is that if you have two incomes, try to live on one and bank the other.
The New York Times article doesn't seem to back up Bennetts' point very well. It shows that women are getting jobs after taking off many years. They are able to return back to professional jobs, maybe not making as much as they had before, but they were able to support their families. By this point, the children were teenagers and were more self-sufficient. The out-of-work husband presumably picked up the slack at home. I don't see any points scored for Bennetts here.
I'm not sure which family arrangement is the most financially secure. There are too many variables to consider. And financial security has to be balanced by other considerations.
I'm just pleased that I didn't have to scrounge for daycare today, as the kids had the day off from school for the holidays.