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?

September 7, 2010


How Much Money Do We Need to Be Happy? Just $75,000?

Belinda Luscombe • Time • September 6, 2010

“People say money doesn’t buy happiness. Except, according to a new study from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, it sort of does — up to about $75,000 a year. The lower a person’s annual income falls below that benchmark, the unhappier he or she feels. But no matter how much more than $75,000 people make, they don’t report any greater degree of happiness.”

How BMW Deals With an Aging Workforce

Author Unlisted • CBS News • September 5, 2010

“In what the Harvard Business Review called ‘an experiment defusing its demographic time bomb,’ BMW decided to look ahead.  Management have tinkered with one assembly line in one division of a huge auto plant, and turned it older overnight. They staffed it so that the average age of workers would be 47 - exactly what it’s projected to be seven years from now.  They then asked the workers how to make things better.”

Study: Women navigate motherhood differently than in the past

Cassandra Spratling • Detroit Free Press • September 5, 2010

“Employers attempting to attract top talent, many of whom are women, must recognize that more workers come with a different mind-set—a mind-set that says I don’t want to choose between a career and a family and I’m not going to kill myself to achieve work-family balance, Barclay says.  According to the report, America is increasingly becoming a more matriarchal society.”

Making Social Security less generous isn’t the answer

Ezra Klein • Washington Post • September 5, 2010

“Raising the Social Security retirement age has become as close to a consensus position as exists in American politics. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) supports it. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) has said that ‘we could and should consider a higher retirement age.’ And for a while, I agreed with them, too. It seemed obvious: People live longer today, and so they should work later into life. But as I’ve looked at the issue, I’ve decided that I was wrong. So let me be the skunk at the party. We should leave the retirement age alone. In fact, we should leave Social Security alone—unless we’re making it more, rather than less, generous.”

Seven Careers in a Lifetime? Think Twice, Researchers Say

Carl Bialik • Wall Street Journal • September 4, 2010

“Do Americans really go through careers like they do cars or refrigerators? As workers take in the latest round of monthly unemployment data over Labor Day weekend, Americans are focused on volatility in the job market. Much of what they hear points to growing job instability and increased autonomy of workers. Among the most-repeated claims is that the average U.S. worker will have many careers—seven is the most widely cited number—in his or her lifetime.”

The Boss Is Robotic, and Rolling Up Behind You

John Markoff • New York Times • September 4, 2010

“Mobile robots are now being used in hundreds of hospitals nationwide as the eyes, ears and voices of doctors who cannot be there in person. They are being rolled out in workplaces, allowing employees in disparate locales to communicate more easily and letting managers supervise employees from afar. And they are being tested as caregivers in assisted-living centers. [. . .] Skeptics say these machines do not represent a great improvement over video teleconferencing. But advocates say the experience is substantially better, shifting control of space and time to the remote user.”

Stress, Burnout Taking Toll on Many Still in U.S. Workforce

Paul Solman, Reporter • PBS News Hour • September 3, 2010

“As the recession drags on, many of those who are employed say they’re overworked and underpaid.”

Should the Government Expand Telework?

Kenneth P. Green • American Enterprise Institute - Outlook •

“The Obama administration and the Democratically controlled Congress have expressed particular interest in reducing oil consumption, air pollution, and greenhouse-gas emissions, and have explored innumerable approaches to driving such changes in the private sector. As it turns out, they have a great option for achieving these goals already under their control: the disposition of their own workforce. In this Outlook, I examine an untapped resource for energy reduction by state and federal governments: the expansion of full-time telework for government workers.  Telework basically means decentralized working.”


We Need Play-cations, Not Just Vacations

Ellen Galinsky • Huffington Post • September 6, 2010

“It’s Labor Day Weekend—the last weekend of summer before we plunge into fall. Hurricane Earl swept up the East Coast, missing us, but bringing cold biting winds that, even amid the bright sunlight, seemed a signal that summer—vacation season—is ebbing and it is back to work we go.  That is, if we ever left work. Work, as we all know, can be all-the-time, every-place. A special study on overwork by the Families and Work Institute (FWI) reveals that that one in three of all U.S. employees can be considered chronically overworked.”

Parents targeted for their labour market participation

Barbara Pocock • Sloan Work and Family Blog • September 6, 2010

“Two competing national paid parental leave schemes were on offer to Australian parents in the recent national election, with the Liberal Party offering full replacement income for 26 weeks parental leave and the Australian Labor Party (ALP) promoting its scheme of 18 weeks leave at the minimum wage, a scheme legislated to begin operating in January 2011. [. . .] These policies are being promoted by the two major political parties in a context of a policy push to increase women’s labour market participation”

10 Ways to Cut Unemployment in Half

Douglas A. McIntyre, Michael B. Sauter, and Ashley C. Allen • Atlantic - Business • September 5, 2010

“1. Funding Reduced Pay. Germany has a government policy which provides tax credits to companies that shorten work hours rather than lay off employees. Let’s say there’s a company with 100 jobs that wants to slash its payroll by 10 percent. It can fire 10 people. Or it could reduce hours by 10 percent and get a tax credit from the government to make the employees ‘whole.’ Companies save money, but add workers.”

Brief Thought on GDP Per Hour Worked

Reihan Salam • National Review Online - The Agenda • September 3, 2010

“But it’s worth noting that as unemployment has skyrocketed in the U.S., we’ve overtaken the French in GDP per hour worked. [. . .]  Moreover, as we’ve discussed, Krugman’s characterization of the distribution of leisure in both countries is misleading. The French spend considerable time on housework, etc., that can only be loosely described as leisure or time with their families.”

The real lesson of Labor Day

Robert Reich • Salon • September 3, 2010

“But for years American families kept spending as if their incomes were keeping pace with overall economic growth. And their spending fueled continued growth. How did families manage this trick? First, women streamed into the paid work force. By the late 1990s, more than 60 percent of mothers with young children worked outside the home (in 1966, only 24 percent did).  Second, everyone put in more hours. What families didn’t receive in wage increases they made up for in work increases. By the mid-2000s, the typical male worker was putting in roughly 100 hours more each year than two decades before, and the typical female worker about 200 hours more.”

Global News

French strike over pensions age bid

Author Unlisted • Press Association • September 7, 2010

“A strike by French unions has shut down trains, planes, buses, underground services, post offices and schools in a dispute over raising the age of retirement. [. . .] The government insists raising the retirement age from 60 to 62 is essential as people are living longer, and it has urged everyone to show ‘courage’ as it tries to chip away at the huge national debt.  The French retirement age is already among the lowest in Europe. In contrast, Germany has decided to move up the retirement age from 65 to 67 and the US Social Security system is gradually raising the retirement age to 67 as well.”

Recession drives number of career breaks to a record high

Mark King • Guardian, UK • September 5, 2010

“The recession is driving more young people than ever to embark on gap years as well as prompting record numbers of working Britons to take sabbaticals and career breaks, according to research from Santander. In the 1970s, around 270,000 people took time out from their careers, a figure which increased to around 710,000 between 1980 and 1989. By 2010, according to Santander’s research, the number of people taking career breaks had rocketed to around 4 million people.”