The Way We Work

Policy Paper
Dec. 15, 2004

In recent years, researchers, the media, and policymakers have struggled to examine the shifting dynamics of work and family and to better understand the implications of these changes for American life. Most experts can agree that American families have changed. We no longer fit the June and Ward Cleaver model. In 1960, 70 percent of American families with children had at least one parent home full-time. By 2000, this trend has been completely reversed. Today, nearly 70 percent of families are headed by either two working parents or a single working parent. The notion of a breadwinner and a wife may have defined the intersection of family and work in the past. But today’s realities demonstrate that for most families, this is no longer true.

Similarly, the nature of work in America has changed, with a 9-to-5 workday quickly becoming a relic of the past. Families are now struggling to integrate into a global economy that operates on a 24/7 schedule. Today men and women in America are working more than most other workers in the industrialized world. Nevertheless, the concept of the "ideal worker" -- someone available at all times, without family responsibilities --dominates today’s workplace culture, pulling moms and dads further into the workforce.

For the complete document, please see the attached PDF version. 


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