Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Data support Americans’ sense of accelerating ’time warp’; balance between work and family elusive

23.11.2004


While the U.S. work week, or hours spent working for pay by the average employee, has not significantly changed over the past 30 years, the demands of work and family are certainly colliding. According to research by sociologists, there is a growing split of the labor force into those squeezed by family and work time demands, usually at the top end of the pay scale, and those unable to find sufficient amounts of work, usually at the bottom of the pay scale. In addition, an ongoing transformation of family life also lies at the heart of the new time dilemmas facing an increasing number of Americans.



According to U.S. Census figures, the average male worked 43.5 hours a week in 1970 and 43.1 hours a week in 2000, and the average female worked 37.1 hours in 1970 and 37.0 hours in 2000. The work experience of individuals does not give a clear picture though until we shift our focus to the combined work hours of the family, where the time squeeze becomes more apparent.

Sociologists Kathleen Gerson, New York University, and Jerry Jacobs, University of Pennsylvania, found that "[c]hanges in jobs and changes in families…are separating the two-earner and single-parent households from the more traditional households, and are creating different futures for parents, especially mothers, than for workers without children at home." Their research appears in the fall 2004 issue of Contexts magazine, published by the American Sociological Association.


Most analyses of work time focus on the individual, but it is families, not isolated individuals, that typically experience time squeezes. "Even if the length of the work week had not changed at all," said Gerson and Jacobs, "the rise of families that depend on either two incomes or one parent would suffice to explain why Americans feel so pressed for time."

For married couples, the combined work week has increased from an average of about 53 hours in 1970 to 63 hours in 2000. The explanation for this increase in work hours, given that the individual person’s work week has not changed much, is that 30 years ago half of all married families had only a male breadwinner. By 2000, this group sunk to one quarter. The two-earner family put in close to 82 working hours in 2000 compared to 78 hours in 1970.

"The vast majority of the change in working time over the past 30 years can thus be traced to changes in the kinds of families we live in rather than to changes in how much we work," said Gerson and Jacobs. For instance, they said, "Census Bureau data show that women headed one-fifth of all families in 2000, twice the share of female-headed households in 1970. Even though their average work week remained unchanged at 39 hours, the lack of child care and other support services leave them facing time changes at least as sharp."

Although dual-earner parents are facing greater time pressures, they cope with these pressures by cutting back on joint working time rather than time with the children. According to Census data, parents in two-income families worked 3.3 fewer hours per week than two-income families without children. There were 2.6 hours separating these two types of families in 1970. The number of combined work hours declines as the number of children under the age of 18 increases. "However, it is mothers, not fathers, who are cutting back," said the researchers. "Fathers actually work more hours when they have children at home, and their work hours increase with the number of children . . . . And while parents are putting in less time at work than their peers without children at home, they shoulder the domestic responsibilities that leave them facing clashes between work demands and family needs."

The researchers believe that the future of family well-being and gender equality depends on developing large-scale policy changes in order to meet the needs of the 21st century workers and alleviate time pressures faced by working parents. These policies should address the organization of the American work and community institutions. "This includes revising regulations on hours of work and providing benefit protections to more workers, moving toward the norm of a shorter work week, creating more family-supportive workplaces that offer both job flexibility and protections for employed parents, and developing a wider array of high quality, affordable child care options," suggest Gerson and Jacobs.

These policies may not be a cure-all, but taken together, they offer a comprehensive approach toward narrowing the gender gap in the workplace and alleviating time pressures confronting a growing number of American workers and their families, the authors maintain.

Johanna Ebner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.asanet.org

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>