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

nachricht Geographers provide new insight into commuter megaregions of the US
01.12.2016 | Dartmouth College

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>