A Dutch program is trying to help unemployed women by fixing them up with dudes. But Sweden has upped women's paychecks in an equally surprising but probably better way: setting aside parental leave for men only.
According to the Daily Mail, three councils in the northern Netherlands are offering women a makeover, photo shoot, and membership in a dating service, together apparently worth about $1685. The goal: lessen unemployment benefits by helping the women find husbands who can support them. Radboud Visser, director of the dating agency that will "help" the women, tells the Times of London,
We know from national statistics that people in a relationship have better health, more happiness, make more money and live longer lives. They make less use of medical systems and social security. So in Friesland they thought, we can try to get people out of social security by bringing them to a nice new husband.
He adds that makeovers might help women with job searches too: "If you go for a job interview or on an interview for a new partner, it is almost the same thing. You must be sure you look good, you take care of your body and your face and you say the right things."
Dutch women (and men, as the program is technically open to them too) may feel differently. Perhaps they'd prefer, say, job training to a day at the salon. According to the Times, "Mr Visser said that the first candidate for the scheme had already enrolled." But the Mail puts this more pessimistically: "So far, just one candidate has signed up for the voluntary scheme."
The Dutch plan is reminiscent of Italy's pay-for-babies program in its wrongheadedness, but Sweden has another idea that has increased women's pay. According to an in-depth Times article by Katrin Bennhold, though the Scandinavian country has long offered parental leave to either gender, few men took advantage of it — until the government mandated a month that was only available to dads. That's now been extended to two, and may grow to four after elections this September. Now 85% of Swedish dads take some time with their kids, which has had some encouraging results. Writes Bennhold,