What Pundits Get Wrong About Child Care and Paid Leave
“The quality of the punditry is abysmal.” That’s the title of an excellent letter recently shared with me and submitted to the editor of The Washington Post by George Mason University economics professor Donald Boudreaux. Indeed, newspapers are full of questionable statements about child care costs, paid leave, and other economic matters that make me question the extent to which reporters and pundits have educated themselves on the topics.
Let’s start with the cost-of-child-care piece that prompted Boudreaux’s letter. Writing for the Post, Elliot Haspel labeled the conclusion of a 2015 Mercatus Center publication on the cost of child care a “myth” that he summarized in this line from the study itself: “Removing costly regulations of the child care industry could provide greater benefits to all families by lowering the cost of care without sacrificing quality.” Haspel’s rejection of the argument rests on the reality that the cost of child care would still be high even without government regulation—but that’s obvious.
Haspel’s rebuttal is lacking because the study’s authors never said that removing government regulations would make child care inexpensive. They simply said that removing regulations would make it more affordable. Child care is expensive, partly because demand for this service is high. Nevertheless, there’s ample evidence that many government regulations, such as those that require costly licensing processes or advanced education degrees, shrink the potential supply of child care. In turn, this government-induced shrinkage of supply “further raises the cost of an already costly service,” as Boudreaux notes in
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