Gender, Employment, and Work-Family Policy: Lessons from Europe:. Janet C. Gornick The Graduate Center, City University of New York Ariane Hegewisch Institute for Women’s Policy Research Work Family Research Network Conference 2012. O verview.
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Janet C. Gornick
The Graduate Center, City University of New York
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Work Family Research Network Conference 2012
All unlike US
“the objectives of the [Parental Leave] Directive, namely to improve the reconciliation of work, private and family life for working parents and equality between men and women with regard to labour market opportunities and treatment at work across the Union…”
EEOC v. Bloomberg LLP (2011): judge’s opinion dismissing a charge of unequal treatment of women returning from maternity leave, with reference to Jack Welsh (ex-CEO of General Electric) quote: “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences;” [….] “The law does not mandate ‘work-life balance.’”
Leave Policy — Generosity Indicator (2009):weeks available to mothers (unpaid, paid, total)● US family leave policy is exceptionally meager. ● In the US, employer-provider leave is limited and the distribution is regressive.
Leave Policy — Gender Equality Index (2009):extent to which policy rules encourage gender-symmetrical leave-taking● Generosity and gender-egalitarian design are distinct policy features.● US leave policy is moderately gender-egalitarian; the FMLA grants men and women identical, non-transferrable entitlements.
Early Childhood Education and Care (2009):percentage of children in formal care (public and private)● In comparative perspective, the US provides especially little public child care.
● Countries with most extensive work-family reconciliation policies have highest women’s labor force participation and highest fertility rates (e.g., France, Denmark, Sweden).
● Countries with least extensive work-family reconciliation policies have lowest women’s labor force participation and lowest fertility rates (e.g., Germany, Italy, Spain).
● Poverty rates for households with children tend to be lower in countries with extensive work-family supports.
“If countries with no paid maternity leave (such as the United States) introduce this measure at the average OECD level (15 weeks), they could increase MFP [multi factor productivity] by 1.1 percent in the long run.”
Bassaniniand Venn, 2008:11, OECD Monitor
1. Persistent ambivalence about maternal employment;
the “mommy wars” are especially intense and polarizing in the US.
2. An unusually privatized conception of childrearing and family responsibility; “work/family conflict” is generally viewed as a private issue; “children as pets”.
3. “Hard work” mythicized in American political culture; calls for shorter work hours (among men) meet resistance from many quarters; the value of time (versus income) is rarely noted in public discourse.
4. Fertility declines not (yet) an issue in the US; in Europe, these programs are widely understood to be crucial for sustaining high birth rates (and current demographic outcomes bear that out).
5. Lack of awareness of policy provisions in similar countries.