7 Policy Changes America Needs So People Can Work and Have Kids

Source: Stew Friedman, Harvard Business Review, HBR Blog Network, November 11, 2013

We are in the midst of a revolution in gender roles, both at work and at home. And when it comes to having children, the outlook is very different for those embarking on adulthood’s journey now than it was for the men and women who graduated a generation ago. I recently published research from the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, comparing Wharton’s Classes of 1992 and 2012. One of the more surprising findings is that the rate of Wharton graduates who plan to have children has dropped by about half over the past 20 years. …

…My research, and that of others, increasingly points to the fact that the thwarting of young people’s aspirations is the result of external pressures that make having both a successful career and a child seem impossible. Our current capacity to meet this challenge is cause for very serious concern. But there is no one solution; partial answers must come from various quarters. Here are seven ideas for action in social and educational policy, based on my own research — described in Baby Bust: New Choices for Men and Women in Work and Family — and what others have learned:

1. Provide World-Class Child Care….
2. Make Family Leave Universally Available….
3. Revise the Education Calendar….
4. Support Portable Health Care….
5. Relieve Students of Burdensome Debt….
6. Display a Variety of Role Models and Career Paths….
7. Require Public Service….