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?

April 26, 2011


What is a “good” job, anyway?

Michael Lind • Salon • April 26, 2011

“During the golden age of American capitalism between World War II and the 1960s, the breadwinner wage system was reflected in a gendered job system, pressure on women to be homemakers, and practices like firing female schoolteachers when they married, on the assumption that their husbands would support them and their jobs could be given to single women who needed them more. Victories in the civil rights era against workplace sexism and the migration into the workforce of most adult women, including most mothers of small children, shattered the family wage system. One result of the increase in two-earner couples is an ambiguity about the phrase ‘living wage.’”

Americans depend more on federal aid than ever

Dennis Cauchon • USA Today • April 26, 2011

“A record 18.3% of the nation’s total personal income was a payment from the government for Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment benefits and other programs in 2010. Wages accounted for the lowest share of income — 51.0% — since the government began keeping track in 1929. […] From 1980 to 2000, government aid was roughly constant at 12.5%. The sharp increase since then — especially since the start of 2008 — reflects several changes: the expansion of health care and federal programs generally, the aging population and lingering economic problems.”

Public Pensions, Once Off Limits, Face Budget Cuts

Michael Cooper and Mary Williams Walsh • New York Times • April 25, 2011

“Conventional wisdom and the laws and constitutions of many states have long held that the pensions being earned by current government workers are untouchable. But as the fiscal crisis has lingered, officials in strapped states […] have begun to take a second look, to see whether there might be loopholes allowing them to cut the pension benefits of current employees.  […] Other states have gone further, requiring workers to work more years before retiring, or to contribute a higher portion of their salaries toward their pensions. A few states have rolled back cost-of-living increases for retirees, prompting lawsuits.”

Women Still Far Behind in Retirement Plans

Anne Arvia • TheStreet • April 25, 2011

“Women are the primary caregivers in this country and, according to the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, typically work 12 years less than men over their lifetime to care for children and other family members. While out of the work force, women are not able to build their pension benefits, pay into Social Security or contribute money to an employer’s 401(k), all of which can hurt retirement income.”

In a Life Filled With Firsts, One More

Lizette Alvarez • New York Times • April 24, 2011

“Ms. Wasserman Schultz, though, gives credit to her husband, Steve Schultz, a community banker, for managing the household without a baby sitter. When she is home, they sit side by side on the couch watching separate TVs: he plugs headphones into his set to watch sports.  ‘Everybody has to make sacrifices for their jobs,’ Mr. Schultz said. ‘Successful people are very busy. That’s where society is today.’  For her part, Ms. Wasserman Schultz says, ‘I promote that you don’t have to choose between work and family.’ But, she adds, ‘I married a great guy.’”


“This highlights an important flaw in a lot of proposals to improve working class living standard. Sensible, risk-averse firms have good reason not to just fire people and replace them with new technology over a marginal reduction in costs. But anything you do that makes the unit labor costs higher without improving the productivity of the workforce serves to push on this calculation and bring forward the day in which large numbers of waiters and waitresses are replaced by iPads.”

Retirement money fears now grip a record majority working Americans

Andrew Malcolm • Los Angeles Times - Top of the Ticket • April 25, 2011

“While Washington politicians pontificate and argue over preserving Social Security as a sacred trust, fully six out of ten American workers have already decided that after an entire working life contributing from every paycheck, they will actually receive no benefits from Social Security upon retirement.  That’s the most pessimistic level in nearly a quarter-century.  Gallup has also detected a change in expectations about retirement age.  Sixteen years ago when Gallup asked that question, only 12% said they would have to work past 65. That percentage has now more than tripled (37%).”

Working Parents’ Secret Weapon: Grandparents

Rachel Emma Silverman • Wall Street Journal - The Juggle • April 24, 2011

“Some grandparents don’t just live close by – they actually live with family. As the WSJ’s Anne Tergesen recently reported, in 2008, a record 49 million Americans, or 16.1% of the population, lived in households with at least two adult generations or a grandparent plus one other generation, according to the nonprofit Pew Research Center in Washington. That is up 17% from 2000.  The trend is being driven in part by the economic downturn and the aging of the population, Tergesen writes.”

Boomers Supporting Boomerang Kinds: A Positive Trend or Not?

Vivian Diller • Huffington Post • April 23, 2011

“Although parents are not legally obliged to support children over the age of 18 (and in years past, few parents did), and although 86 percent of the Boomer moms in the survey were financially independent by the time they were 25 years old, it is clear that many parents today will do what they can to help their adult children. AARP confirms this new trend, saying the stats from the smaller Florida survey are in line with their own larger ones, which have shown that 69 percent of their members currently provide some level of financial support to their adult children.”

Global News

Recession Seen Taking Toll on Gender Equality

Katrin Behnold • New York Times • April 26, 2011

“The worst economic slump in half a century was hailed as the beginning of the end of male dominance in the labor market.  But as attention has turned from bank balance sheets to government debt and from stimulus spending to austerity, the legacy of the recession may be less, not more, gender equality. […] economists and women’s groups warn that women are likely to bear the brunt of austerity: as public sector employees, as retirees who live longer than men and thus rely more on health care and social security, and as mothers whose decision to work depends on affordable child care.”

Province moves to allow flexible work schedules

Larry Kusch • Winnipeg Free Press • April 26, 2011

“It may soon become easier for non-union hourly wage earners in Manitoba to balance work and family needs.  Legislation introduced last week by the provincial NDP government would allow employers and individual employees to enter into written flextime agreements.  The agreements could be used to allow workers to make up time when attending a school meeting or driving a parent to a medical appointment—or allow them to work four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour shifts.”