Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The U.S. vs. the Rest of the Post-Industrial World

The Council on Contemporary Families released a new study of how the U.S. ranks in family-friendly work policies. The study found that the U.S. ranked high in protecting the right of all people to work, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age or disability. The study also found "marked success in lowering the poverty rates of the elderly, although they have been less successful than other affluent nations in protecting children from poverty...In addition, the U.S. is also one of 117 countries guaranteeing a pay premium for overtime work."

All to the good, and thank your lucky stars for the labor, feminist, and Civil Rights movements. Beyond that, however, the U.S. left much to be desired:

Out of 173 countries studied, 168 countries offer guaranteed leave with income to women in connection with childbirth; 98 of these countries offer 14 or more weeks paid leave. Although in a number of countries, many women work in the informal sector, where these government guarantees do not always apply, the fact remains that the U.S. guarantees no paid leave for mothers in any segment of the work force, leaving it in the company of only 4 other nations: Lesotho, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland.

65 countries ensure that fathers either receive paid paternity leave or have a right to paid parental leave; 31 of these countries offer 14 or more weeks of paid leave. The U.S. guarantees fathers neither paid paternity nor paid parental leave.

107 countries protect working women’s right to breastfeed; in at least 73 of these the breaks are paid. The U.S. does not guarantee the right to breastfeed, even though breastfeeding is proven to reduce infant mortality.

137 countries mandate paid annual leave, with 121 of these countries guaranteeing 2 weeks or more each year. The U.S. does not require employers to provide any paid annual leave...

145 countries provide paid leave for short- or long-term illnesses, with 127 providing a week or more annually. More than 79 countries provide sickness benefits for at least 26 weeks or until recovery. The U.S. provides only unpaid leave for serious illnesses through the FMLA, which does not cover all workers. Moreover, the U.S. does not guarantee any paid sick days for common illnesses.

And so on. I suspect that very few Daddy Dialectic readers will be surprised by these findings. The press release concludes:

There is an enormous payoff to improving working conditions -— from lowering long-term family poverty to improving population health and education and increasing their associated economic and social benefits. The comparative data do not support the common notion that establishing good working conditions leads to job loss. Our studies found that none of these protections is associated with higher unemployment rates on a national level. In fact, on a global scale, countries that provide longer parental leave, as well as more leave to care for children, are among the most economically competitive.

At the top of this post you'll see my son Liko, fighting for everyone's right to work...


Granny said...

Good post and sadly all too true.

Brandon said...

That is absolutely powerful. Great post. Brandon