NewsRoundup

The Roundup will be brought to you in July and August by the new Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN), an international membership organization for interdisciplinary work and family academics. The WFRN welcomes the participation of policy makers and practitioners as it seeks to promote knowledge and understanding of work and family issues among the community of global stakeholders. The Roundup is a compilation of the latest news articles, reports and other materials related to workplace flexibility delivered to your inbox on Monday and Thursday. In the fall, the WFRN will launch its new website which will include a News Feed among other features. We hope that you will get involved as a member and by posting the latest news. Questions?

March 9, 2010

Articles

As Male Employment Numbers Drop, Female Breadwinner Numbers Soar

Todd Zwillich, Host • Takeaway • March 9, 2010

“Since December 2007, seven million jobs have been lost in our country, and the majority of those who’ve lost their jobs have been men. At the same time, females have been returning to the workforce in higher numbers than their male counterparts, and more and more women have taken on the role of primary breadwinner for their families.”

Paid Sick Leave Bill Sparks Heated Debate

A.J. Higgins, Reporter • Maine Public Broadcasting Network • March 8, 2010

“Lawmakers in Augusta are considering a proposal that would make Maine the first state in the country to have some form of mandatory sick leave for full and part-time workers. Sponsors say that in addition to providing workers with more paid sick leave, the bill is designed to control the spread of pandemic disease. But the Legislature’s Labor Committee continues to wrestle with the legislation, which has pitted labor groups against the state’s business community.”

Our Working Nation

Heather Boushey and Ann O'Leary • Center for American Progress • March 8, 2010

“The federal government has not updated its policies to aid families to reflect these new realities in the workplace and in the home. And the laws we do have on the books—the provision of unpaid, job-protected leave offered by the Family and Medical Leave Act and the prohibition against sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act—don’t fully meet the needs of today’s workers, especially lower-income workers. Nor to any great degree have state and local governments updated their laws to address these problems. Yet this is one of the most significant policy challenges of the 21st century. Policymakers need to re-evaluate the values and assumptions underlying our nation’s workplace policies to ensure that they reflect the actual—not outdated or imagined—ways that families work and care for their loved ones today.”

Naps May Improve Performance Later In The Day

Author Unlisted • NPR - All Things Considered • March 7, 2010

“Looking for an excuse to work in a quick snooze in the afternoon?  Here you go: Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have found that naps may help your brain work better later. [. . .] Walker says one real-world application for his study is to emphasize the value of sleep to a population always on the go.”

The Real Generation Gap

Robert J. Samuelson • Newsweek • March 5, 2010

“As baby boomers retire, higher federal spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid may raise millennials’ taxes and squeeze other government programs. It will be harder to start and raise families.  Millennials could become the chumps for their elders’ economic sins, particularly the failure to confront the predictable costs of baby boomers’ retirement.”

Blogs

Keeping Workers Happy - and Working

Daniel Hamermesh • New York Times - Freakonomics • March 9, 2010

“A recent paper by David Blau and Tetyana Shvydko demonstrates this very neatly.  At firms with large shares of young women (which Blau and Shvydko hypothesize are also firms with flexible work policies), older workers are less likely to leave for full retirement.  The chance for a flexible work schedule alters older workers’ behavior, driving them to stay in the workforce for longer.”

The World's Best Countries for Women

Nancy Folbre • New York Times - Economix • March 8, 2010

“Obviously, the answer depends on how you define ‘best’ — in absolute terms, relative to men, or some combination of the two?  You can choose from at least four different published rankings that consider some aspect of gender inequality that include the United States. None of them places us among the top 10. [. . .] Despite these differences, a clear pattern emerges. Scandinavian countries that have made gender equality an explicit goal and implemented policies such as universal child care and paid family leaves almost always land on the top of the list.  The United States lags far behind.”

Time Trade Circle

Katherine Ellin • Sloan Work and Family Blog • March 8, 2010

“Five years and many transformations later, the Time Trade Circle has grown to over 550 members, ages 18-90, in and around Boston. The Time Trade Circle operates like a bank, but the exchange unit is time. An hour is an hour, no matter what the service. One member may prepare a meal for another to earn 2 hours and with that 2 hours, he may get his hair cut by a third member who may use her hours to get computer help from yet another member. It’s a huge multi-generational web of connected people who trade expertise, services and time with one another.”

Obama on Women's Rights: More Glass Ceilings Need to be Shattered

Sunlen Miller • ABC News - Political Punch • March 8, 2010

“At a concert event honoring International Women’s Day, President Obama said that in 2010 ‘full gender quality has not yet been achieved,’ and that the task of ‘perfecting America’ in order to shatter all the glass ceilings that have ‘yet to be shattered’  still goes on.”

Age, wage, and productivity

Jan van Ours • Voxeu.org • March 5, 2010

“Ageing populations are a concern for many developed countries, with increasing dependence on the working population expected. Despite this, there is relatively little research on how productivity changes with age. This column argues that while older people do not run as fast, there is no evidence of a mental productivity decline and little evidence of an increasing pay-productivity gap. The negative effects of ageing on productivity should not be exaggerated.”

Global News

Baby leave is not a women's issue

Leslie Cannold • Age, Australia • March 10, 2010

“The politics are stupendous. Tony Abbott, a former employment minister who swore that paid maternity leave would become policy over the Howard government’s ‘dead body’, has a radical change of heart. Now Opposition Leader, he promises to introduce 26 weeks of paid parental leave in the first term of a Coalition government. ‘The difference between our scheme and Labor’s … is that mothers get real time and real money,’ Abbott said. ‘I am determined to give women a better chance in the workforce, not to make it more difficult for them.’”

Why work? Calling time on the 9 to 5

Author Unlisted • Guardian • March 8, 2010

“Yet the appeal of an end to the 9 to 5 remains strong, as evidenced by a report last month from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) and from an exchange in the recent Citizen Ethics pamphlet between Robert Skidelsky, Keynes’s biographer, and his son, the philosopher Edward Skidelsky. Pointing out that some are overworked (both in terms of hours and intensity of work) while others are unable to get a job, NEF wants a cut in the working week from 37 to 21 hours. That, it argues, would allow employment to be split evenly between everyone, and would enable men and women to share more fairly the burden of childcare and other unpaid work.”

Awareness Rises, but Women Still Lag in Pay

Nicola Clark • New York Times • March 8, 2010

“The poll assessed companies according to a range of criteria, including rates of female representation, whether the companies measured or set targets for gender balance in pay or promotion, and whether they offered benefits, like paid family leave, to promote work-life balance for their employees.  The findings, which were timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, follow the announcement Friday by the European Union of an initiative aimed at significantly narrowing the union’s average 18 percent gender wage gap, which has changed little in the past 15 years.”

Mind & Meaning: Everyone's a winner with family-first work policies

Patricia Casey • Irish Independent • March 8, 2010

“Work outside the home occupies a large part of people’s lives. It is more than a time filler that provides vital income for individuals and their families—it can also influence health and well-being.  The connection between work and health, especially mental health, was best exemplified by a series of studies of British civil servants carried out in the 1990s. These found that responsibility without autonomy or power was one of the main factors contributing to work-related stress.”