Women in Comparative Societies
The Price of Motherhood: Part Three (Chpts. 10-Conclusion)

Reading:  Crittenden, Anne. 2001. The Price of Motherhood:  Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued.  New York:  Henry Holt and Company (an Owl Book).

Chpt. 10 Welfare State vs. Caring State
** ‘contrary to popular perception, the United States does have a welfare state, but it is designed to ameliorate the economic risks of paid workers only.  Unpaid workers, including those who care for dependent family members, are excluded from the system’

thus, the American ‘welfare state’ has played a major role in the ‘feminization of poverty’

What’s the alternative?  Are there other ways of structuring economic/family life that are more just (to women, to children, to men?  What do men have to gain from such a restructuring?)

The Caring State

This is Crittenden’s term for the policies of most European countries

Most call this:  the European Social Model or

The Social Democratic Model or

Social Democracy


How does this model differ from the American, Liberal-Individualist one?

Strong commitment to social rights including health, housing, education, jobs

Strong commitment to social justice, i.e., that people should not be penalized for not being an unencumbered worker

Strong commitment to family

         That everyone has a right to a family life; to a reasonable balance between work and personal life; hence, all workers get about 1 month PAID vacation.

         That women have a right to employment/careers; jobs are protected when they maternity leave;

         Maternity leave is paid, (but often mandatory); some variation between countries in terms of number of weeks/% of pay

But average is 21 weeks and 90% pay in W Europe

         In most countries fathers can also qualify for paid leave if the mother opts to go back to work sooner than their benefit has run out;

Child/Family Allowances

         All families get monthly payments for children

         Why?  How is this justified?

         Children seen as a SOCIAL GOOD not just a “personal” or “lifestyle” choice for which parents, esp. mothers are responsible for

How many times have you heard someone say something like, “If you’re poor, don’t have children?” or “Don’t have so many children?”

Europe does this not only because it’s more just, but also because it’s population has been stagnant or shrinking since the 1970s

Need more workers in future generations to maintain generous welfare state/social model

So, there has been a push to encourage people to have children



Chpts. 11 and 12

these are about the child care industry
low rates of pay and potential dangers of

nannygate (only women political appointees were drilled and yet accoutable for their child care arrangements)

problems with au pairs

also argues that many children from underprivileged backgrounds would be better off (better cared for, better educated, better prepared for school) if they had access to government provided, subsidized or free preschools

Chpt. 13 It was her choice
The constant refrain, that we don’t have to change anything about how we treat mothers because women ‘choose’ to be mothers over career ‘because it’s more important’

Research in US colleges shows that men and women have greatly different preferences for working/childcare than what actually happens in most families

Women’s preference is both parents working and caring for children part-time

Men’s preference is for the man to work full-time and the woman to be home with pre-school age kids full-time (238)

The arrangement preferred by the women is the most rare ‘ in most families, either both work full-time (not men’s first choice) or the men’s preference prevails

this chapter discusses family (PAID) leave policies in Sweden where men get first 10 days and then mother and father can share the next year off (although one month is reserved for fathers or forfeited)

shows that you can’t just leave to ‘choice’
social norms led many Swedish men not to use their leave the way the policy was originally written (.i.e. without the one month reserved for the men);  research showed that the state had to offer this carrot to men to override their (and the mothers’) unfamiliarity/fear of men being primary care-givers to babies

Research showed the early bond formed by men and their infants through this leave translated into closer relationships with their children later in childhood, more confidence in their parenting (feeling like they new what their children needed) and made men less likely to abandon their children a la deadbeat dads (242)

This is one reason why the Swedish people feel it’s worth the cost of paying people’s salaries during their child’s infancy

another side effect is that Scandinavian men do more housework than men anywhere else (241)

A 1997 survey in the US found that only 32 companies offered any leave specifically for fathers (243)

recommendations to help reduce the mommy tax, allow women to actually balance career and family and not be economically shafted for it

calls for a new social contract in the US that counts motherwork and stops punishing women economically for raising their children

Recommendations (some utopian, some not possible in federal system like ours)
1.  Employment:  Redesign Work around Parental Norms
like?  pd leave, shorter hours, pro-rated benefits, more part-time, elim. discrimination ag. parents in the workplace (like what? how?)
how possible/likely is each one of these?

2. Government:  Replace the Welfare State with a Caring State
by?  equalizing ss for spouses, offering social insurance to primary care-givers, providing universal preschool to all three and four year olds, stop taxing mothers more than everyone else, create a child allowance (social security for children ‘ this is how Europeans have erased child poverty), provide free health care for children and their primary caregivers, add unpaid household labor to GDP
 possible?  probable?

3.  Husbands:  If You Want Her to Do the Work, You Have to Pay Her
make all income family income, insist on equal standards of living after divorce, transfer resp. for post-divorce payments to a federal agency
 possible?  probable?

4.  The Community
provide community support to parents through more public spaces for parents and children, e.g. folk center (should this be under govt?  who pays for center?), parent education, value caregiving in employment/as a credential
possible?  probable?