|International Report Card on Parenting Policies: U.S. Gets a Gentleman's "C"|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- September 1, 2008
When it comes to giving fathers and mothers equal access to time off from work to care for new babies, the United States gets a "gentleman's C," ranking in the middle of 21 wealthy countries, according to a Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) report presented to the Council on Contemporary Families in time for Labor Day. But when it comes to the amount of time parents are entitled to take and the provision of subsidies that make it affordable for workers to take the time to which they are entitled, the United States lags far behind most countries with comparable levels of income. In "Parental Leave Policies in 21 Countries: Assessing Generosity and Gender Equality," the CEPR researchers found that the U.S. and Australia were the only high-income countries to offer no paid parental leave.
Gender Equitable Leave in the U.S.
In terms of total guaranteed time off from work, the U.S. ranks 20th out of 21 high-income countries - just ahead of Switzerland, which offers only 14 weeks of protected leave. But in Switzerland, such leaves are paid at a rate of 80 percent of mothers' income. This means that fewer workers need to turn down the leave to which they are entitled because they can't afford to have no money coming in. "While the United States does a better job than many countries in allowing both men and women to utilize family leaves, it also forces both men and women to make hard choices between their need to have income coming in and their need to spend time with their newborns," comments family historian and CCF Director of Research Stephanie Coontz.
"Families need both time and money, especially after the birth of a child," says Gornick, who is Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate Center, the City University of New York, "We found that most high-income countries are able to guarantee both to new families. The U.S. is the exception. Australia also fails to subsidize parental leave, but it does give a sizable ‘baby bonus' at birth and up to a year off for new parents, compared to only 24 weeks per couple here in the United States. Switzerland offers a couple only 14 weeks total leave, but 11 of these are paid." In fact, most paid leaves in other high-income countries are longer than the unpaid leaves available to American workers.
But doesn't it cost too much?
Five Policies that Work
Money for Paid Leave:
For more information, including graphic illustrations of the report, please see the Center for Economic and Policy Research report, "Parental Leave Policies in 21 Countries: Assessing Generosity and Gender Equality," by Rebecca Ray, Janet C. Gornick, and John Schmitt at http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/parental_2008_09.pdf; or contact Alan Barber, Communications Coordinator at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), 202.293.5380 x115, firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Rebecca Ray is a research assistant at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR); Janet C. Gornick is Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate Center, the City University of New York; and John Schmitt is a senior economist at CEPR.
For international comparisons of leave generosity and gender equality, contact Janet Gornick, study co-author and Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate Center, the City University of New York, at email@example.com or 212.817.1872.
For analysis of the relationship between work/family balance and economic performance contact John Schmitt, study co-author and senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, at 202.293.5380 x113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For U.S. parental leave policies in international perspective, contact Steve Wisensale, Professor of Public Policy in the School of Family Studies, at 860.486.4576 (w), 860.767.2196 (h), or email@example.com.
For historical perspectives on men's and women's changing roles at work and home, contact Stephanie Coontz, Professor of History and Family Studies, The Evergreen State College, at 360.352.8117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about other briefing papers and about our annual April conferences, including complimentary press passes for journalists, contact Stephanie Coontz, CCF's Director of Research and Public Education, at email@example.com.
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