by Chenoa Flippen

Immigration from Latin America to the United States has surged in recent decades, and along with it the entry of immigrant women into the U.S. labor market. Understanding how immigrant Latinas are faring in the U.S. economy requires more than just adding women to models that were designed to explain the experiences of immigrant men. Instead, this understanding requires us to move beyond treating gender, legal status, and family structure as mere variables to be controlled for and to think more deeply about how the various constraints on women’s work interact with one another.

Drawing on original data on immigrant women residing in Durham, NC, one of the “new” destinations that has sprung up around the country in recent decades, I explore the determinants of whether or not immigrant Latinas work, and if so, how well they are able to maintain steady, full time employment. Results show that immigrant Latinas are highly concentrated in a handful of immigrant-dominated occupations, and there is little evidence that women with greater education or work experience are able to get better jobs.

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Povertyby Rebecca Vallas

Across the country, legal services attorneys play a largely hidden but essential role as first responders to American poverty. The family facing foreclosure after falling behind on the mortgage when both Mom and Dad lost their jobs in the recession. The mother of three, fleeing domestic abuse, who desperately needs a protective order to keep herself and her children safe. The woman with stage four cancer and six months to live, who has been wrongfully denied Social Security and Medicare. Without legal services, they would have nowhere to turn.

Day in and day out, legal services attorneys fight for the rights of poor individuals and families, providing legal help to people who cannot afford an attorney. Access to representation is vitally important.  But as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, it’s time to renew the vision of legal services as antipoverty work.

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Today we are posting a four-part panel with four sociologists discussing a number of issues around the norms of what it means to be an ideal worker and how these relate to various work leave policies.

Julie Kmec kicks it off with a discussion of how Landon Donovan, one of the best living US soccer players, was cut from the US Men’s World Cup Team. She suggests that Donovan was cut as a penalty for taking a four-month sabbatical for family and R&R time, thus violating norms of being a dedicated worker, which are particularly strong in the US.

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ussoccerlogo Perhaps you have heard of Landon Donovan.  He is a professional soccer play for the L.A. Galaxy and the all-time leader in both scoring and assists for the U.S. national soccer team and one of the few in the U.S. professional soccer league who has who has registered both 60 goals and 60 assists.  He’s played professionally in both the U.S. and abroad since the age of 17 (he is now 32) and has made successful World Cup appearances for the U.S. national team, scoring five goals in World Cup play.

Perhaps you have also heard that he was recently cut from the final 23-man US men’s national team’s World Cup roster. Some speculate he was cut because his skill level has recently declined (yet days after he was cut from the national team, he broke the MLS record for most goals scored in the regular season) or because of the U.S. men’s national coach could not stand having a star detract attention from him.

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The New York Mets' infielder Daniel Murphy

The New York Mets’ infielder Daniel Murphy

Julie’s post raises some interesting points about what it means to be a professional athlete of any stripe. Another recent incident, this time in Major League Baseball (MLB), serves as both a teachable moment and an segue into a broader debate about parental leave and what it means to be a “good employee.”

Daniel Murphy, an infielder for the New York Mets, was recently at the center of a very public debate over taking parental leave while in the midst of a season. Major League Baseball has a pretty long season – players typically report to Spring Training sometime in February, the regular season runs from April (or the very end of March depending on the year) until September, with post-season play taking place in October. This means that players typically have a narrow window for off-season activities. Younger players may play in Winter Leagues in either Arizona, the Caribbean, or in Australia while older players spend the off season getting surgical repairs and readying themselves physically for another grueling season, which features 162 regular season games. Players therefore do not get an enormous amount of time off, and they have a lot of baseball work to do during the typical “off” season as well as pressure to make up for family time lost to the long season.

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glass_blogimage_june-20141by Christy Glass

In a recent article published in Forbes (here), business writer Tim Worstall wonders why family-friendly policy advocates support paid maternity leave policies. In his view, such policies are not just ineffective but harmful to women because they damage women’s professional standing—and ultimately reduce their wages. Quoting a woman CEO who shares his views, Worstall argues that mothers should limit their time on paid leave or risk losing the confidence of their employer. So why on earth would anyone argue for more or better paid leave policies?

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work wheelAmong the many things that the American mythology holds to be special about the United States is a particularly strong work ethic. This, of course, is part of a larger narrative of rugged individualism. However dubious the idea of a uniquely American work ethic, it is certainly telling to examine how much Americans work compared with fellow workers in peer countries.

In terms of average annual hours worked per person, the US currently ranks 12th out of 34 OECD countries – that is, Americans work more per year than workers in 22 other OECD countries. The average Dutch worker clocks in 405 fewer hours per year than the average American worker! Yet, the Netherlands ranks ninth out of the 34 countries in GDP per capita, 15% above the OECD average and just five places behind the US. As economist Juliet Schor argued in a best-selling book over 20 years ago, Americans are overworked. Let us examine the most recent, comparative data in a bit more detail.

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