Economists often describe a tradeoff between work and “leisure.” However, as the demographics of the workforce shift, the desired tradeoff will also shift. Women with children, including young children, are far more likely to be in the labor force than was the case a few decades ago.
As family structure has changed, there are more single parents. In addition, the aging of the workforce may create needs for more part-time work for “retired” seniors. And prime-age workers may need time to attend to the needs of elderly parents. Federal and state policy has responded to some of these needs by requiring mandatory leaves – typically unpaid – for workers to attend to health problems of parents – or to their own health needs.
Much of the adaptation, however, is left to private decisions of firms, employees, and unions. This research cluster covers the changing policy environment – public and private – surrounding work and other obligations.