- Sep 2022
Unemployed workers are much more likelyto fall into poverty in countries like the United States, Canada, and Japan,compared with countries such as the Netherlands and Iceland.
Is part of this effect compounded by America's history of the Protestant work ethic (see Max Weber)?
Do the wealthy/powerful benefit by this structure of penalizing the unemployed this way? Is there a direct benefit to them? Or perhaps the penalty creates a general downward pressure on overall wages and thus provides an indirect benefit to those in power?
What are the underlying reasons we tax the unemployed this way?
Consider another example—education. It is true that in most countries, asin the United States, a higher level of educational attainment is typically as-sociated with a lower risk of economic insecurity. But the penalties associatedwith low levels of educational attainment, and the rewards associated with highlevels of attainment, vary significantly by country. Full-time workers without ahigh school degree in Finland, for instance, report the same earnings as thosewith a high school degree. In the United States, however, these workers ex-perience a 24 percent earnings penalty for not completing high school.23 InNorway, a college degree yields only a 20 percent earnings increase over a highschool degree for full-time workers, versus a much higher 68 percent increase inthe United States.24 The percentage of those with a high school degree earningat or below the poverty threshold is more than 4 times higher in the UnitedStates than in Belgium.25
The US penalizes those who don't complete high school to a higher degree than other countries and this can tend to lower our economic resiliency.
American exceptionalism at play?
Another factor at play with respect to https://hypothes.is/a/2uAmuEENEe2KentYKORSww
David Brady and colleagues have shown this to be empirically the case across29 rich democracies. The authors focused on four major risks of poverty—loweducation, single motherhood, young adults heading a household, and unem-ployment. They found that although the prevalence of these risks in the UnitedStates is actually below the average in other countries, the rate of poverty inthe United States is the highest. The reason is that “the penalties for risks inthe United States are the highest of the 29 countries. An individual with allfour risks has an extremely heightened probability of being poor in the UnitedStates.”
How did we get to this point and how do we move away from it?
What does David Brady's research indicate about the other countries that makes them more resilient to poverty despite these problems?
Is it a feature of institutional racism that causes this problem?
- high school graduation rates
- Protestant work ethic
- poverty risk
- human resources
- institutional racism
- economic insecurity
- American exceptionalism
- open questions
- toxic capitalism
- structural racism
- penalizing poverty
- social welfare
- income inequality
- social taxes
- David Brady
- power over