Taking the next step toward workplace equality probably has to start with an acknowledgment that most parents can’t have it all — at least as long as part-time work, flexible schedules and long leaves do so much career damage.
A growing number of parents already seem to have come to this conclusion. That’s one reason for the rise in the number of mothers who have dropped out of the labor force. Lacking good part-time job options, more are choosing full-time parenting.
Last year, 40.2 percent of married women with children under 3 years old were outside the labor force, up from a low of 38.6 percent in 1998. The increase, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis, “occurred across all educational levels and, for most groups, by about the same magnitude.” By contrast, women without children at home have continued to join the work force in growing numbers.
You'll have to forgive the retrograde attitude, but I find it hard to believe that having 40% of mothers with children under 3 choose not to work outside the home is a bad thing. Getting the other 60% to make child-rearing their primary focus is what we ought to be working on.
Of course, if one of the consequences of the current state of affairs is that more women choose to be childless, then that is not a good thing. In the long run, it's demography that really matters.
Reporter David Leonhardt's preferred solutions include things like universal preschool, but I fail to see how that helps. If people have children and then turn them over to the state at an even younger age, what becomes of the parent?
I do agree that addressing this issue will take "cultural change," but I'm not so sure I want to be a part of the culture that Mr. Leonhardt envisions.