Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, whose campaign centers around a universal basic income (UBI), recently took to Twitter to voice his support for paid family leave for new parents. He highlighted that Swaziland, Lesotho, and Liberia recently passed paid leave for new mothers and pushed for the United States to follow suit for new parents.
“The only 2 countries left that do not have it are Papua New Guinea and the United States of America. We need paid leave for new parents in this country immediately. I would make it happen as President.”
Per The Guardian, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists claims that one in four women return to work within 10 days of giving birth. Even the United Kingdom, reportedly one of the least family-friendly of the world’s wealthiest countries, provides maternity leave equal to 12 weeks full pay.
Yang’s push comes as the issue of maternity leave is becoming an important policy point that many Democratic contenders support. In addition, eight states and the District of Columbia have passed paid family leave bills on their own turf.
The focus on maternity leave is in sync with the rest of Yang’s campaign, which frequently touts UBI as a benefit for many groups of people, including women. Per ThinkProgress, the 44-year-old serial entrepreneur believes that his proposal of $1,000 per month for every American adult would help women who are in exploitative or abusive relationships or jobs, and feel like they don’t have the means to “walk away and improve their situations.”
“How many of those women would be able to improve their day-to-day environment if they were getting a $1,000 a month — if they knew that they didn’t have to rely upon that exploitative job or that abusive husband or boyfriend for their very survival?”
The #FreedomDividend would recognize the work that isn't valued by the market, like caregiving, that is performed disproportionately by women. Putting cash into the hands of women also would empower them to leave exploitative jobs or relationships. pic.twitter.com/4AvQcrOL0r— Andrew Yang???? (@AndrewYang) July 9, 2019
In a piece for Quillette, author Louise Perry suggests that when both genders have children, men’s earnings are minimally affected compared to the female’s earnings, which “fall off a cliff.” According to Perry, a more accurate description of the gender pay gap is the “maternity pay gap.”
In the past, Yang has highlighted that approximately 40 percent of children born in the United States today are raised by unmarried mothers, which is not only a 15 percent jump from 1980 but higher than the average of other Western countries — about 20 percent. Such children have worse short- and long-term outcomes, at least partly because of the economic difficulties of single mothers, which is a problem Yang believes his UBI — which has the most support from Democrats, voters under 50, and earners under $50,000 — will work to improve.