Daycare, paid maternity leave: Why US is still bad for working parents
December 6, 2019 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Though the stay-at-home share of U.S. parents was almost identical in 2016 to what it was in 1989 (Pew Research), paternal leave (especially maternity leave) and support for daycare are increasingly important to families, if not the United States at large. America's parents want paid family leave and affordable child care. Why can't they get it? USA Today looks at the impacts of raising a child in the U.S. today, the private efforts to court in-demand workers by offering better family support, compared to the range of political proposals, none of which seem to be any closer to passing.

Alternate title, quoting from the USA Today: The US is the only developed country without paid maternity leave

"Developed country" can be a problematic term, and the graphs in USA Today only compare the U.S. to Australia, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Slovakia and the U.K., so here's a summary of parental leave support and legislation by country from Wikipedia's lengthy article on parental leave. Also from Wikipedia: a summary of child care support provided by country, in the broader child care article.
posted by filthy light thief (12 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Polling continues to show many Americans don't see the need for the federal government to get involved in affordable child care – or, for that matter, for women to work.

Thank you USA Today for actually naming the root of the problem right up front.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 3:03 PM on December 6, 2019 [26 favorites]

Except the figures don't quite support that message. Here's the source poll, which has a related article: Americans Widely Support Paid Family and Medical Leave, but Differ Over Specific Policies.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:11 PM on December 6, 2019

Polling continues to show many Americans don't see the need for the federal government to get involved in affordable child care – or, for that matter, for women to work.

This is also what you get if you listen carefully to Andrew Yang talk about UBI, overpraise his stay at home wife for her stay at hominess, and read about his history with women in his workplace.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 3:50 PM on December 6, 2019 [17 favorites]

Because misogyny and evangelical god botherers (source: The latest episode of behind the bastards podcast)
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 4:10 PM on December 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

If the stay at home share is the same, is the increased importance of parental leave and daycare because a more significant portion of that share are staying home as an economic sacrifice (due to the cost of child care vs. paid work for the lesser earning partner) instead of by choice now?
posted by Selena777 at 4:54 PM on December 6, 2019

Why Child Care Is So Ridiculously Expensive
posted by kliuless at 5:05 PM on December 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

I think it's more critical to start with requiring that all workers are afforded paid sick leave.
posted by NotLost at 6:36 PM on December 6, 2019 [4 favorites]

That is important but it doesn’t mean this is not important.
posted by thedaniel at 4:12 AM on December 7, 2019 [12 favorites]

“Trust us to treat our employees well,’’ said Brad Close, who heads public policy and advocacy for the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB)

Ha ha, nope.

In fact, a majority of Americans back this approach: They say paid leave, required by a federal mandate or not, should be paid for by employers, not the government, according to the Pew Research Center.

So there is broad support for some kind of paid leave, but not broad support for having it be a federal program. That seems like a harder sell, because then you have the small business community (see quote above) up in arms about being unable to pay these additional costs.

My guess (as someone with no kids and who doesn't run a business) is that the only workable solution is going to be federal in some way -- just mandating businesses pay for it doesn't seem realistic. And there are a whole set of follow-on questions that will get dragged in, like does the proposed policy have any impacts on people who are currently stay-at-home parents, and can it be made a win-win for them as well?

I also wonder how workplaces in countries with really strong leave laws are handling fairness issues of reassigning workload while people are out on maternity/paternity leave? I am sure it is a solved problem; it would be interesting to see how the nuts and bolts work.

Anyway, this is something I am fully in favor of though I personally will never benefit since we have no plans for procreating. For whatever reason, we give parents such limited support, and there are basic ways to make that burden less.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:35 AM on December 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

A problem I didn’t see addressed in tfa is that just like schools and a lot of other problems of wealth inequality, daycare is also at the mercy of unregulated housing. If parents can’t be sure where they’re living, or even whether they’ll be housed, they’ll be hard pressed to keep kids in the same daycare, to form secure attachments, make and keep friends, have continuity of people and culture, etc etc etc. Plus the emotional disruption of housing insecurity. All the things you can see in a struggling kid’s school record. Matthew Desmond’s book Evicted touches on this a bit.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:35 AM on December 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Having a family is itself a luxury commodity for the rich now.
posted by bleep at 11:59 AM on December 7, 2019

Not just now; always. The rich get families; the poor grow their own coworkers.
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:08 PM on December 8, 2019

« Older native people have always had a pulse on pop...   |   30 years after the Montreal Massacre, an... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments