The United States is at a crossroads in its policies towards the family and gender equality. Currently America provides basic support for children, fathers, and mothers in the form of unpaid parental leave, child-related tax breaks, and limited public childcare. Alternatively, the United States’ OECD peers empower families through paid parental leave and comprehensive investments in infants and children.
The potential gains from strengthening these policies are enormous. Paid parental leave and subsidised childcare help get and keep more women in the workforce, contribute to economic growth, offer cognitive and health benefits to children, and extend choice for parents in finding their preferred work-life strategy. Indeed, the United States has been falling behind the rest of the
OECD in many social and economic indicators by not adequately investing in children, fathers and mothers.
A comprehensive study of work-life balance issues warrants a detailed discussion of all relevant policies, such as tax/benefit supports, workplace practices, childcare, education, and long-term care systems. Such an assessment is beyond the scope of this report, which focusses more narrowly on issues around reconciling work and care commitments for families with young children and in particular on paidparental leave policies within the OECD and the United States.