https://fee.org/articles/how-free-trade-liberated-women-from-housework/ "How Free Trade Liberated Women from Housework Chelsea Follett US tariffs will thus target and raise the cost of appliances that have been key to women’s empowerment historically. t is an underappreciated fact that women are hit particularly hard by the United States’ ever-increasing tariffs on imports and burgeoning trade war with China (and, possibly, other countries as well). Recently another set of tariffs on imports took effect, raising prices on hundreds of goods especially important to women, including foodstuffs and appliances. It may sound trite—or worse—to associate these goods primarily with women. But economic history clearly shows that labor-saving appliances and ready-made food products save women time, thereby expanding their opportunities, and allowing them to improve their education and skills, pursue employment outside the home, and do other things they value. The Market Freed up Women's Time Consider just one appliance that the administration’s tariffs have hit especially hard: the washing machine. Just a century ago, women would spend at least one full day of their already overburdened week soaking, stirring, boiling, wringing, hanging, deodorizing, starching, and then folding and ironing their household laundry. Today, the washing machine reduces the amount of weekly active work on laundry to around an hour. As University of Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang has noted, “Without the washing machine, the scale of change in the role of women in society and in family dynamics would not have been nearly as dramatic.” Yet the US recently placed a 25 percent tariff on Samsung and LG washing machines from South Korea and has tariffed the foreign steel and aluminum used in American-made washers. As a result, the price of these machines has already increased by 17 percent. The new tariffs will increase the cost of countless goods that have freed women’s time and dramatically improved gender equality, helping make two-earner households possible. Consumers will see heftier price tags on vacuum cleaners, sewing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, kitchen waste disposers, blenders, food processors, toaster ovens, microwaves, kitchen ranges and ovens, slow cookers, and virtually all other appliances. (The full list of products targeted by the latest tariffs is 194-pages-long.) The increase in cost will represent an abrupt change for the worse after global trade liberalization previously lowered the cost of many those same goods over the past decades. Reducing the Burden of Housework The tariffs will thus target and raise the cost of appliances that have been key to women’s empowerment historically. Thanks in part to the affordability of everyday kitchen appliances, cooking has changed from a necessary, labor-intensive task to a largely optional activity in the United States. Back in the days of churning butter and baking one’s own bread, food preparation consumed as much time as a full-time job. But by 2008, the average American spent around an hour on food preparation each day, and from the mid-1960s to 2008, women more than halved the amount of time spent on food preparation. Yet women still cook more than men in the United States, and so any increase in the cost of kitchen appliances is a tax on items that women use the most..."