Sept 18, 2023 – Economic fallacies influence decisions and laws
Gene C. Colman Introduction: Let’s continue with our examination of Prof. Neilsen’s work. We continue to present excerpts from Prof. Linda Nielsen’s latest book, “Myths and Lies About Dads”. As we progress through her book, we gain further insights. Wow – of course I knew that, we tend to say as we nod in approval to her findings. We come to realize that it’s those myths, stereotypes and outright lies about dads that tend to form powerful blockages against legislating a rebuttable presumption of Equal Shared Parenting. And while Prof. Nielsen not only shatters those myths, she expertly amasses a wealth of solid social science data that supports the key importance of both parents in their children’s lives. Throughout, the bolding and italics are mine.
In this week’s newsletter, we turn to chapter five of Prof. Nielsen’s book and we learn about the economic fallacies that have been foisted onto us.
Here is today’s highlighted myth – Money: Dad wins, Mom loses
From page 91:
Who really ends up financially better off—the man or his ex? Before we look at the research, we need to understand why answer that question is complicated. 22 23 First, researchers compare divorced women as a group to divorced men as a group. They are not comparing men and women who were formerly married to each other. Second, most researchers don’t consider couples’ educational levels. This matters because college-educated couples usually have more similar standards of living after they separate than less educated couples. Third, most researchers only compare the parents’ incomes which isn’t the best way to get a picture of their actual standard of living. For example, the mother’s standard of living might be higher than it initially appears from her income and child support payments if she continues living in the family’s home and pays lower taxes due to child-relaxed tax benefits. Fourth, even when children live with their father 25%-30% of the year, he has to send the same amount of child support money to their mother even though it is costing him more to have the children live with him that frequently. In the only study that has ever considered all of these factors, fathers ended up with $25 a month more than mothers ($45 in 2023 dollars ). 22
Then too, researchers usually compare men’s and women’s incomes in the first year or two after divorce—the time when the income gap is greatest because most women are re-establishing themselves in the workforce. Moreover, most divorced men and women remarry which generally boosts the woman’s standard of living but lowers the man’s. 24 For example, five years after divorce, women are about 3% better off and men about 6% better off financially than when they were married. 25 Then too, much of the older research doesn’t reflect the fact that the younger generation of women is in better financial shape than older women, which leaves them in a better position after divorce. For example, women under the age of 35 now earn 90% what men earn when they work the same jobs and similar hours. 26 And women are now more likely than men to earn an undergraduate degree. 27 This puts many women in a better position financially after divorce than older research studies show.
Stay tuned to upcoming ESP Thoughts of the Day for more insightful excerpts from Prof. Nielsen’s book.
Gene C. Colman comments further
In chapter 5 of her book, Prof. Nielsen explodes the economic myths, stereotypes and assorted lies (yes, lies) that pervade the research re the economic effects of separation and divorce. About ten years ago I was gathering research on this topic (which unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to turn into an academic paper). The distortions of data and shoddy research that so called respected academics of the 90’s and decades following heaped upon us served quite well to drive social policy and legislation – the most famous of them being the Child Support Guidelines whose basic premises are faulty, to say the least. For sure equal parenting is our prime goal. But ensuring economic security for children in both households should be a companion goal of those who advocate for ESP. I extend my thanks to Prof. Nielsen for carefully footnoting her findings in chapter five. For many, chapter five will be a real eye opener!