Panel – Ideal worker norms, family leave and vacation leave (and professional sports!)

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.

Chris Prener discusses a related case of Daniel Murphy, a pro baseball player who was widely ridiculed for taking a three-day parental leave during regular season, in order to be with his wife while she gave birth to their child.

In this panel we are also reposting an article from Christy Glass, who takes on business writer Tim Worstall, for lamely suggesting that maternity leave policies bear partial responsibility for the continuing gender gap in pay. She discusses cross-national research showing that “When society supports mother’s employment, paid parental leaves are actually associated with higher earnings.” And lest we forget: the U.S. is one of the only countries in the world that does not guarantee paid maternity leave to workers.

Finally, I round things out by presenting data on comparative working hours and vacation leave from 34 OECD countries. I show that the US is the only one of the 34 OECD countries to both have GDP per capita higher than the average – 40% above average – yet also work longer hours per year than the average.

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