Panel: What’s Affordable? What’s Feasible? Care Arrangements and Work Strategies in North America and Europe
(Family and Child Policy)

Saturday, November 8, 2014: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Nambe (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Lindsay Flynn, University of Virginia
Panel Chairs:  Julia Gelatt, Urban Institute
Discussants:  Jaime Thomas, Mathematica Policy Research

Employment, especially the employment of women, is heavily dependent on choices made regarding family formation and child-bearing. A number of studies identify the role of family friendly policies in shaping the employment decisions of parents. Of the many factors, adequate and affordable childcare is seen to alleviate the competing responsibilities of work and family, enabling mothers to remain or re-enter the labor market. Yet, there is much to do by way of measuring care, and tracing the ways in which it frames employment decisions. Furthermore, and more broadly, a larger question remains: what other strategies are used by working mothers to reconcile work and family? The authors contributing to this panel tackle these issues. Cleveland and Krashinsky fill a gap in the discipline by developing a micro-level measure of affordable childcare, which can be used in future studies to assess the childcare-employment link. Flynn assesses the impact of subsidized care versus market-based care on maternal employment by bringing together various macro-level measures of the cost of care. Lim offers insight into another avenue mothers may use: increasing work flexibility through self-employment. Combined, the authors offer a different way of understanding work-family dynamics. They focus both on the empirics needed to move current research forward (for instance new measures on childcare costs) and the implications of types of care (for instance, nonsubsidized care purchased in the market, or adjusting work behavior to accommodate child-rearing responsibilities). They do so by looking at multiple countries, and using a (related) range of methodologies. While all authors use micro-level survey data, Cleveland and Krashinsky use multiple surveys of Canadian respondents along with a tax and benefit simulator, Lim incorporates longitudinal data for mothers in the United States, and Flynn combines harmonized micro-level survey data for multiple countries with macro-level institutional variables. This panel contributes to the theme Global Challenges, New Perspectives in a number of ways. The panelists, from the disciplines of economics, political science, and public policy, offer in their papers a framework that is different from traditional research on work-family policies and outcomes, broadening our understanding of the challenges that governments and families will face in the decades to come. The measures on childcare are, in many cases, new contributions themselves, and the methodologies highlight the value and challenges of combining data from various sources and years. Moreover, the papers utilize data from the United States, Canada, and Western Europe, providing a global context to questions surrounding the family, the state, and the market.
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