chapter  4
26 Pages

Caregiving and Wage-Earning: A Historical Perspective on Work and Family

At the beginning of the 21st century, a gap persists between public policies and women's responsibilities. The organization of most workplaces and the division of labor within most families assurne a full-time homemaker even though nearly 80% of mothers in the United States are in the labor force (Costello, Wright, & Stone, 2002, p. 263). Nearly alone among Western democracies, the United States offers little public assistance to families faced with the dual responsibilities of caregiving and wage-earning (Gornick & Meyers, 2004). Why is it that to meet the needs of the household, American families of all types must rely on private and market-based solutions to supplement family labor, predominantly of mothers, rat her than turn to public solutions for child care, eider care. and horne maintenance? Why is it that men still perform considerably less household work than women or that more prosperous women solve their "double day" by hiring other women as domestics, nannies, and personal attendants (Ehrenreich, 2002),?