The article “No Fault of Her Own: Redressing Family Responsibilities Discrimination in the State Unemployment Compensation Systems” discusses the problem of gender bias in unemployment insurance system. The author, Carolyn McConnell argues that the unemployment insurance system created in 1930s is outdated for the current labor force. By being based on the social structures of 1930s, the system keeps the gender discrimination that was present at the time of its creation. McConnell gathers most of her statistical data about labor force from the Quick Stats on Women Workers, a 2009 publication from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the report, women comprise about half of the paid labor force and 60% of them have children under six years of age. The author uses these numbers to show that the current unemployment insurance system is broken.
Furthermore, the author cites Isaac Rubinow, one of the founding fathers of unemployment insurance, to have a testament of what the 1930s social structure was. Rubinow, claims that fathers are the breadwinners and mothers are the caregivers, thus reinforcing the idea that unemployment insurance was not created to support caregivers, specifically women. The author continues by stating that the despite the gender equality in the United States, for biological and social reasons women are still the main caregivers and hence the main victims of the unemployment insurance system’s unfairness. Were our society to shift to have men as primary caregivers, they would be the victims. Therefore, McConnell while arguing for gender discrimination in unemployment insurance system, essentially argues for equality for the caregivers within the system.
The two sources of discrimination are the definitions of the “good cause for quitting a job” and “availability”. McConnell explains that though the federal government helps fund the unemployment insurance system, it leaves to the states to design the statues. This means that the definitions of the “good cause for quitting a job” and “availability” can be different amongst the 51 states. While statutes vary among the 51 states, none of them fully addresses the issues of caregivers. The author uses he “good cause” definition to demonstrate the unemployment insurance system’s direction of change in last century. In the 1940, 41 out of 48 states had defined “good cause” as “compelling personal reasons”; a very broad definition that could potentially include caregiver’s necessities. However, by 2003 only 15 states have left “good cause” unrestricted. Throughout years, “good cause” has been narrowed down to mean “work-related good cause” with only some specific exceptions listed in the state statutes. McConnell goes on to state the two types of situations that can be helpful to caregivers and by presenting these situations, she further emphasize that even in these cases the reasoning is construed such that it becomes a “work-related reason”. Later throughout the paper she cites multiple court cases that have fluctuated in their decisions related to caregiver’s issues in the unemployment insurance system.
The next section that the author discusses relates to the availability decision, and the author argues that the reality that women are the primary caregivers puts them at risk when it comes to the insurance eligibility since they are not as available as men are to take any suited job. She argues that for many states availability means being available 24/7, which is unrealistic for a caregiving parent.
As a conclusion, the author states that unemployment insurance system needs to be remodeled to reflect current social structure. She concludes that discrimination against caregivers, mainly women, has its negative effects on the economy as a whole because it helps avoid discouraged workers who think their human capital is not valued.
The paper is well organized and provides a good analysis of the issue. Research is introduced with an argument, a criticism of the current state of the matter which is followed by suggestions for improvements. The author uses credible sources to demonstrate what the issues are and then support her own suggestions with existing research. It raises a very interesting question that needs to be further researched in order to create policies that will eradicate the discrimination. One research that needs to be done is regarding the definition of the “good cause” and “availability”. The author does states what is wrong with it, but she lacks to say what are the possible consequences of the new and more inclusive definitions. The definitions started rather broad and were narrowed as time went by. A research needs to look into the reasons that the definition was narrowed at so many states. Helping those in need is essential for any society; however, one should not ignore the greedy human nature. It is possible that the definitions were narrowed because the system was being exploited.
Another research that needs to be done in depth is that of the funding. Currently the government is in debt and increasing the number of unemployment insurance recipients would be more state and federal funding. The author claims that unemployment insurance generates $2.15 in economic activity for ever $1 spent. Hence indicating that investment in unemployment insurance can act as a stimulus. While this may very well be accurate, further research needs to be done to understand whether increase in taxation will be necessary for such an investment and whether state or federal government should be the funders. In the recent elections Republicans argued that social programs further disable people by putting a soft pillow underneath their heads. Meanwhile, Democrats argued that without a proper social network the economy cannot survive. The proposed research needs to analyze the arguments on both sides and see what the effects of investment in the unemployment insurance system are.
The paper does not include any citations at the end. Instead, it has a number of footnotes linked back to the next. The footnotes were helpful because they allowed to see where the specific information was taken from. However, it would have been more efficient to have citations because footnotes often refer to different pages or sections of the same source. APA style does not recommend to have footnotes and endnotes because they are expensive to reproduce. Hence citations provide a more concise and well organized reference while also being less costly. In the absence of the citations, I shall discuss the footnote style. When a work has more than one, but less than four authors, all the authors are listed, The primary author's both name and last name is listed while only last name of the secondary authors is noted. When the number of author exceeds 3, the name of the primary author is listed and is followed by “et all”, which means “and all”. So for example, in the following footnote “Smith” is the primary author.
Smith et al, National Employment Law Project (NELP), Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Confronting the Failure of Unemployment Insurance Systems to Serve Women and Working Families (July 2003)
It is difficult to understand the format used in footnotes because the author often uses her own words to direct the reader towards a specific part of the cited work. There seems to be no single formate that the author has followed.
Despite the absence of citations, the author has done the research in accordance to the scientific method. The only thing that the paper is missing is experimentation, and as we know not every research idea can be experimented. Because of its nature, experimentation on this topic would need to be longitudinal involving years of observation and studying.
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