Fixing Parental Leave
The Six Month Solution
Published by: NYU Press
256 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm
- ISBN: 9781479885039
- Published: February 2022
A real-world solution for parental leave that promotes gender equality at work and at home
What do Papua New Guinea, Suriname, and the United States have in common? These three nations are the only ones that do not offer some form of parental leave to new parents. The US lags far behind the rest of the world on this important issue, raising questions about our commitment to gender equality and the welfare of our families.
In Fixing Parental Leave, Gayle Kaufman takes an in-depth look at parental leave policies in the US, the UK, and Sweden, and evaluates the benefits and drawbacks of leave policies in each country. She finds that there is more to parental leave policies than whether a country provides time off around the birth or adoption of a child. While most policies are designed to help women return to work, this is only half of the puzzle. The second half requires men to be meaningful partners by encouraging them to take equal time at home.
Ultimately, Kaufman arrives at a rational solution that will promote gender equity through a policy that enables parents at companies of all sizes to spend six months with their new child.
Gayle Kaufman’s incisive analysis of parental leave policies in the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Sweden convincingly demonstrates that there is no need to choose between child well-being and parental equality. By showing us what works—and what doesn’t—Fixing Parental Leave offers a blueprint for addressing the deepening caregiving crisis facing workers and parents worldwide. It deserves the attention of anyone concerned about the fate of American families, workplaces, and political culture at this critical juncture in our history. ~Kathleen Gerson, author of The Unfinished Revolution: Coming of Age in a New Era of Gender, Work, and Family
Kaufman provides a comprehensive and lively portrait of the parental leave landscape in the United States—both public and private—and demonstrates that the picture is bleak. She draws on policy models operating in Sweden and the United Kingdom to craft policy lessons, both inspirational and cautionary. The heart of Kaufman’s book is a blueprint for the policy reforms that are desperately needed in the United States – reforms that would enable parents to better reconcile parenting and employment, while promoting more gender-egalitarian divisions of labor. Ideally, the book will land in the hands of American policy-makers at the national, state, and local levels. ~Janet Gornick, author of Income Inequality: Economic Disparities and the Middle Class in Affluent Countries
Inducing fury as it exposes American workplaces that give lip service to family leave laws, but that do little to support new families, the book shows that having children penalizes working parents, who are shunted into “mommy track” jobs, miss out on promotions, and depend on employers’ goodwill as they adapt. Forwarding a nuanced perspective on the real consequences of leave policies, [Fixing Parental Leave] compares the US to nations including Sweden and the UK, and find that most successful leave policies take fathers into account, too… The book’s suggestions are enlightening, big picture ones that keep in mind the fact that babies need parents who provide love and stability. ~Foreword Reviews
In Fixing Parental Leave, Kaufman argues that the US continues to lead the world in its lack of support for families, made apparent by its approach to parental leave. The author’s carefully constructed case study of parental leave policies in the US, UK, and Sweden reveals not only best policies and practices for ensuring healthy families and maximizing women’s participation in the labor force, but also illuminates the clear relationship between parental leave and gender equality… [A] valuable study. ~Choice