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Illinois PIRG Education Fund hails the recommendation of the Chicago Resilient Families Task Force report to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to unpaid caregivers. The proposal is a creative way to ensure Americans can maintain their quality of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as technology changes the nature of work.
“Many Illinois families face a tough choice: stay home and care for an aging parent or young child and forgo a paycheck, or go to work to pay their mortgage, put food on the table, and hire others to care for their family,” said Illinois PIRG Education Fund Director Abe Scarr. “Families with care needs deserve an alternative choice.”
As the report notes, the need for caregivers will increase as people across the country age. By 2050, the number of Americans above the age of 65 is expected to almost double. At the same time, just under half of all the activities people are paid to do today could be automated using current technology.
The EITC was designed to encourage people to work and contribute to society. Since our economy increasingly produces more than ever while employing fewer people, the policy should adapt to reward other valuable contributions to society.
Without reorganizing how people earn, increasing numbers of Illinoisans will be unable to meet their basic needs even as automation makes greater prosperity possible. Redefining work to include the effort people make everyday to care for a loved one is an important step toward dealing with the changing nature of work.
“Caregiving is essential for all families. Investing in unpaid caregivers ensures more people thrive as the nature of work changes,” Scarr said. “How we define ‘work’ will change dramatically in the coming decades but the need to care for children and elderly relatives won’t.”
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