Category Archives: Family & Work

The Impact of Paid Family Leave on Employers: Evidence from New York

Source: Ann P. Bartel, Maya Rossin-Slater, Christopher J. Ruhm, Meredith Slopen & Jane Waldfogel, National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 28672, April 2021

We designed and fielded a survey of New York and Pennsylvania firms to study the impacts of New York’s 2018 Paid Family Leave policy on employer outcomes. We match each NY firm to a comparable PA firm and use difference-in-difference models to analyze within-match-pair changes in outcomes. We find that PFL leads to an improvement in employers’ rating of their ease of handling long employee absences, concentrated in the first policy year and among firms with 50-99 employees. We also find an increase in employee leave-taking in the second policy year, driven by smaller firms.

Economic Challenges for Parents During COVID-19

Source: Ryan Sweet, Regional Financial Review, November 2020
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We explore how living with school-age children has affected decision-making during the pandemic. Households with children experienced sharper job and income losses than those whose children are not living at home, and female parents are more than twice as likely as men to reduce their work hours among couples living together.

His and Her Earnings Following Parenthood in the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom

Source: Kelly Musick, Megan Doherty Bea, Pilar Gonalons-Pons, American Sociological Review, Volume: 85 issue: 4, August 2020
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From the abstract:
This article advances a couple-level framework to examine how parenthood shapes within-family gender inequality by education in three countries that vary in their normative and policy context: the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. We trace mothers’ share of couple earnings and variation by her education in the 10-year window around first birth, using long-running harmonized panel surveys from the 1990s and 2000s (N = 4,117 couples and 28,488 couple-years) and an event study methodology that leverages within-couple variation in earnings pre- and post-birth. Our results show steep declines in her share of couple earnings following first birth across the three countries that persist over several years of follow-up. Declines are smallest in the United States, due to U.S. mothers’ higher employment and longer work hours. Declines are also smaller among female partners without a college degree in the United States, where mothers have less work-family support and fewer options to manage work and family on one income. Results shed light on how parenthood plays into gender inequality within couples, and how country context shapes couple dynamics and inequality across households.

When Do Unions Matter to Social Policy? Organized Labor and Leave Legislation in US States

Source: Cassandra Engeman, Social Forces, Advance Articles, Published: July 29, 2020
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From the abstract:
Trade union institutions are historically and comparatively weak in the United States, and union membership has been in steady decline over several decades. Scholars thus question the contemporary relevance of organized labor to social policy. Yet, there is considerable state-level variation in social policy and union institutional strength that remains underexamined. Focusing on variability across US states, this paper uses mixed-methods analysis to examine relationships between organized labor and parental and family leave legislation under varying political conditions. Event history analysis of state-level leave policy adoption from 1983 to 2016 shows that union institutional strength, particularly in the public sector, is positively associated with the timing of leave policy adoption. These findings are robust to the inclusion of other factors, including Democratic control of state houses, which is also shown to facilitate leave policy adoption. Comparative case studies support event history findings and illustrate how state house partisanship informs the level of government that leave advocates target for policy change. The paper concludes by suggesting further attention to subnational policies and investigation into the social movement practice of target-shifting and its effects. Ultimately, the paper demonstrates the operation of power resources at the subnational level within a liberal market national context.

“When Do You Plan on Having a Baby?” and Other Questions Not to Ask

Source: Melissa Torres, Employee Benefit Plan Review, Vol. 74, No. 5, July-August 2020
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From the abstract:
Employers interviewing women of child-bearing age may be tempted to ask about plans for having a baby, but doing so poses risks. While an employer might be concerned about staffing coverage, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against a woman based on her potential or capacity to become pregnant. Taking adverse action against a pregnant employee because of her pregnancy is equally unlawful.

Nonetheless, an article in The New York Times not too long ago bore the striking headline: “Pregnancy Discrimination Is Rampant Inside America’s Biggest Companies.” The article indicated that, notwithstanding the law, many pregnant women were either passed over for promotions or fired when they complained.

Yet another Times headline focused on the failure of employers to provide light duty to pregnant women: “Miscarrying at Work: The Physical Toll of Pregnancy Discrimination.”

Perceptions of Work–Life Balance for Urban Academic Librarians: An Exploratory Study

Source: Tamara Townsend & Kimberley Bugg, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 5, 2020
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From the abstract:
The topic of work–life balance (WLB) has gotten a lot of attention in popular literature, but there has been little library scholarship on the issue. This exploratory study presents the perceptions of 329 academic librarians on what they believe an ideal WLB looks like, and how it impacts their personal and professional responsibilities. The authors asked about strategies for a successful WLB, about overall job satisfaction, coping strategies, and more. The study is intended to prompt discussions of the topic, and lead to an exploration of how to continue to grow and support a strong workforce.

Work Scheduling for American Mothers, 1990 and 2012

Source: Peter Hepburn, Social Problems, Latest Articles, October 26, 2019
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From the abstract:
American working conditions have deteriorated over the last 40 years. One commonly-noted change is the rise of nonstandard and unstable work schedules. Such schedules, especially when held by mothers, negatively affect family functioning and the well-being and development of children; they have implications for the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage. This article describes and compares the working schedules—in terms of type, duration, and variability—of American mothers in 1990 and 2012 in an attempt to assess whether nonstandard and unstable schedules are growing more common. Analyses demonstrate that evening work has increased in prevalence for single mothers but not for their partnered peers. Mothers in both single-mother and two-partner households experienced considerably greater within-week schedule variability and higher likelihood of weekend work in 2012 than they did in 1990. These changes resulted from widespread shifts in the nature of work, especially affecting less educated mothers.

The Constant Caregiver: Work–family Spillover among Men and Women in Nursing

Source: Marci D Cottingham, Jamie J Chapman, Rebecca J Erickson, Work, Employment and Society, OnlineFirst Published November 8, 2019
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From the abstract:
Work–family spillover is a central concept in the work and occupations literature, with prior research detailing its negative outcomes and gendered dimensions. With increased demands for careworkers and more men entering occupations such as nursing, we examine experiences and perceptions of spillover using qualitative data from a diverse sample of 48 US nurses. We find similarities across men and women in terms of exhaustion and stress as well as in anticipating spillover in their careers. Yet, we also find some differences, with men (but not women) highlighting the transfer of emotional capital between work and family. We extend work–family research by broadening the concept of spillover to include its anticipation and the transfer of emotional capital – both aspects that have been previously under-examined. These findings have implications for the retention and support of careworkers and refine the concept of spillover in ways that could apply to various employment sectors.

Do US TRAP Laws Trap Women Into Bad Jobs?

Source: Kate Bahn, Adriana Kugler, Melissa Holly Mahoney & Annie McGrew, Feminist Economics, August 19, 2019
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From the abstract:
This study explores the impact of women’s access to reproductive healthcare on labor market opportunities in the US. Previous research finds that access to the contraception pill delayed age at first birth and increased access to a university degree, labor force participation, and wages for women. This study examines how access to contraceptives and abortions impacts job mobility. If women cannot control family planning or doing so is heavily dependent on staying in one job, it is more difficult to plan for and take risks in their careers. Using data from the Current Population Survey’s Outgoing Rotation Group, this study finds that Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws increased “job lock.” Women in states with TRAP laws are less likely to move between occupations and into higher-paying occupations. Moreover, public funding for medically necessary abortions increases full-time occupational mobility, and contraceptive insurance coverage increases transitions into paid employment.

Child Care Affordability Is Out of Reach for Many Low-Income Hispanic Households

Source: Danielle A. Crosby, Julia L. Mendez, Amanda Barnes, National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families, October 2019

From the overview:
Hispanic households tend to have both high levels of parental employment and low levels of income, making access to good-quality child care a critical need for these families. Child care has the potential to serve as a two-generation investment strategy, with both short- and long- term economic and social benefits, by supporting parents’ ability to work and providing enrichment opportunities for children.

Affordability is a key factor shaping families’ access to care. Even when communities have an adequate supply of good-quality child care that meets parents’ and children’s needs and families are aware of these options, care remains inaccessible if costs are beyond household budgets. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends that child care be considered affordable if family out-of-pocket costs are equivalent to 7 percent or less of total household income. Yet in every state in the nation, the average price of formal child care (e.g., centers and licensed or regulated family child care) exceeds this recommended benchmark of affordability.

To reduce financial barriers and support more equitable access, several federal and state programs provide low-income families with no- or low-cost early care and education (ECE) options, including Head Start, public pre-kindergarten, and subsidies through the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). While the reach of these programs has expanded over the years, funding constraints mean that not all eligible children can be served. In the absence of such programs or when co-payments are high, low-income families are often priced out of the formal, licensed care settings that tend to be more stable and of higher quality than more informal arrangements.