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Michael Strain on the economics of the ‘two-income trap’

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Last week in the New York Times, Ross Douthat wrote: “Recently, under the somewhat unlikely inspiration of Elizabeth Warren, some conservatives have revived an old debate: Did millions of women entering the work force actually make families worse off?”

Some conservatives, notably Tucker Carlson in a January monologue, agree with Elizabeth Warren’s 2003 prognosis that it did: Instead of getting richer, dual-earner households bid up the price of real estate and child care and lost the division-of-labor benefits of homemaking, working harder for little or no economic gain. Warren dubbed this the “two-income trap.” In a recent Bloomberg Opinion column, Michael Strain takes issue with this characterization. He joins us on this episode to make his case and discuss the ongoing intra-conservative debate.

Dr. Strain is the director of economic policy studies here at AEI, as well as a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion. Before joining AEI he worked in the Center for Economic Studies at the US Census Bureau and in the macroeconomic research group at the Federal Reserve.

You can subscribe to Banter on iTunesStitcher, or the podcast player of your choice, and archived episodes can be found at This is Banter episode #363.

Related links:

Stop poor-mouthing the two-earner family

Where are all the socially conservative women in this fight?

The Tucker monologue

The one-income trap

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