The Economics of Work and Family

The Economics of Work and Family

The Economics of Work and Family

The Economics of Work and Family

Excerpt

Each of the six chapters in this volume was first presented as a public lecture as part of the Werner Sichel Lecture-Seminar Series for the academic year 2000—2001. This series is sponsored jointly by the Department of Economics at Western Michigan University and the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. The series was titled “The Economics of Work and Family” and included research from six prominent economists specializing in family- and employment-related economic studies. The chapters tackle five broad subjects: child care, parents' time allocation, childbearing decisions, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the relationship between family structure and labor market outcomes.

Each of the authors is a nationally known and widely published expert. However, rather than attempting to present highly technical research evidence, the intent of this volume is to be accessible to readers from a wide variety of backgrounds, including policymakers, social scientists, and college students. In fact, the collection of lectures would serve as a useful companion piece in a course on economics of gender.

Perhaps the most significant problem workers face when attempting to mesh their work lives with their family lives is what to do with young children during parents' work hours. Broadly stated, the child care problems are availability, affordability, and quality. What are the magnitude and scope of these problems, and what might be government's role in alleviating these concerns? The first two chapters in this volume address these topics.

The first chapter, by Professor David M. Blau of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is titled “Federal Child Care Policy: An Evaluation and Proposal for Reform.” Blau, a leader in framing the child care debate in the language and logic of economics, begins by describing the current role of the federal government in subsidizing child care and early education. Next he outlines the sources of market failure in the child care market, and based on this outline he delineates . . .

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