Baruch Professor Testifies Before Congress on Work/Family Policies

Janet Gornick, professor of Political Science at Baruch College’s Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, reports that she has lately been busy meeting with policy-makers on a variety of issues related to employment and family life. Gornick, the co-author of Families that Work (2003), has been researching work-family policies in Europe and the U.S. for years. She says that since the Democrats won the 2006 elections, “I feel like we’ve come in from the cold.”

On Thursday, June 14, at the invitation of New York Senator Charles Schumer and New York Representative Caroline Maloney, Gornick testified before a Congressional Joint Economic Committee hearing looking into ways the U.S. could achieve a better balance of work and family life. In her testimony, Prof. Gornick described the positive effect of family-friendly employment policies on business and on the economy.

Drawing on the research for her book, Gornick compares U.S. social and labor market policies to those of Canada and 10 European countries. Her conclusion is that the U.S lags woefully behind much of the industrialized work when it comes to public provisions for paid maternity and parental leave, the availability of high-quality child care, paid vacation time, and flexible and shorter-hour work schedules.

Unlike the Europeans, Gornick notes that the U.S. has largely failed to invest in families. She points out that Americans “work exceptionally long hours,” (on average 200 to 300 hours more than many of their European counterparts). In addition, she points out that many European countries offer mothers and fathers a period of paid family leave following the birth or adoption of a child. In Canada and the Nordic countries, paid leave time is as much as 28 to 42 weeks. The U.S. is also backward, she asserts, when it comes to publicly financed child care, with most working parents scrabbling to find make-shift private arrangements.

Gornick’s testimony coincides with the release of a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). “Importing Success: Why Work-Family Policies from Abroad Make Economic Sense for the U.S.” provides a look at how U.S. policies could better help working parents to balance the competing demands of employment and care-giving.

In addition to her teaching responsibilities at Baruch College and at the CUNY Graduate Center, Prof. Gornick is currently the Director of the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS), a 24-year old data archive and research institute in Luxembourg that provides data on diverse social and economic outcomes in 32 countries. Much of her own comparative research draws heavily on the LIS data. To read Gornick’s testimony in its entirety visit http://www.jec.senate.gov/hearings.htm#061407

Zane Berzins
News Director
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