An Economist article on women and the world economy argues that "the future of the world economy lies increasingly in female hands". The piece, A guide to womenomics, claims that:
In rich countries, girls now do better at school than boys, more women are getting university degrees than men are and females are filling most new jobs. Arguably, women are now the most powerful engine of global growth.
The article gives particular attention to the growing role of women at work. The most interesting chart highlights the positive correlation between women's fertility rate and their labour force participation:
It is sometimes argued that it is shortsighted to get more women into paid employment. The more women go out to work, it is said, the fewer children there will be and the lower growth will be in the long run. Yet the facts suggest otherwise. Chart 3 shows that countries with high female labour participation rates, such as Sweden, tend to have higher fertility rates than Germany, Italy and Japan, where fewer women work. Indeed, the decline in fertility has been greatest in several countries where female employment is low.
It seems that if higher female labour participation is supported by the right policies, it need not reduce fertility. To make full use of their national pools of female talent, governments need to remove obstacles that make it hard for women to combine work with having children. This may mean offering parental leave and child care, allowing more flexible working hours, and reforming tax and social-security systems that create disincentives for women to work.
Countries in which more women have stayed at home, namely Germany, Japan and Italy, offer less support for working mothers. This means that fewer women take or look for jobs; but it also means lower birth rates because women postpone childbearing. Japan, for example, offers little support for working mothers: only 13% of children under three attend day-care centres, compared with 54% in America and 34% in Britain.
The whole article is free online.