Learning from Bidenomics

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Learning from Bidenomics

The author is the deputy head of the economic policy team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

2020 started out with despair as the pandemic swept across the globe, but is about to end with hope. U.S. President-elect Joe Biden declared victory on Nov. 7, saying, “We are not enemies but Americans.” Biden knows that the urgent task is achieving unity and economic recovery.

Interestingly, Biden’s approach to economic recovery will likely be different. His New Green Deal is important, but his will to resolve inequalities caught my attention. It is different in quality from the reckless civil engineering projects and real estate policies in Korea. The core of “Bidenomics” is envisioning improved health for economic growth by resolving income disparities that fall along racial and gender lines. The economic policy section of Biden’s campaign website has an illustration of women advocating the abolition of income discrimination by gender. It was not a mere design choice.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and many of the main architects of Bidenomics are women. Lael Brainard, a member of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors who was highlighted as future Treasury Secretary by the media, and Senator Elizabeth Warren have built careers by breaking the glass ceiling. Heather Boushey, another one of the brains behind their economic policy, is the associate editor of Feminist Economics.

The United States is not a paradise of gender equality. In the 2018 OECD statistics, the United States had the second-largest proportion of low-income female workers, at 29.7 percent. That means one in three working women in America are paid less than two-thirds of the median income among major OECD member countries. Nevertheless, the United States deserves to be considered a developed country for recognizing the problem and standing at the starting point. Korea topped the rankings in the same category.

In this year’s World Economic Forum survey, Korean women’s economic participation ranked 127th among 155 countries. In the International Labor Organization’s statistics, 11 percent of high-level management positions were held by women, 115th among 126 countries.

You don’t have to go that far. Open your chat room and see who has their children’s names in parenthesis next to their usernames — nearly 100 percent are women, defining themselves by their status as parents.

In the World Bank’s 2018 report “Unrealized Potential: The High Cost of Gender Inequality in Earning,” income discrimination lowers the GDP of each country and results in a loss of $23,620 per person each year. Discrimination leads to substantial financial loss in the end. I hope the time to consider a new paradigm of growth through eliminating discrimination will come to Korea someday.

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