Cover image for The baby boon : how family-friendly America cheats the childless
The baby boon : how family-friendly America cheats the childless
Burkett, Elinor.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Free Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
256 pages ; 25 cm
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HQ755.8 .B857 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Who stays late at the office when Mom leaves for a soccer match? Whose dollars pay for the tax credits, childcare benefits, and school vouchers that only parents can utilize? Who is forced to take those undesirable weekend business trips that Dad refuses? The answer: Adults without children -- most of them women -- have shouldered more than their share of the cost of family-friendly America. Until now.

"Equal Pay for Equal Work" is one of the foundations of modern American work life. But workers without children do not reap the same rewards as do their colleagues who are parents. Instead, as veteran journalist Elinor Burkett reveals, the past decade has seen the most massive redistribution of wealth since the War on Poverty -- this time not from rich to poor but from nonparents, no matter how modest their means, to parents, no matter how affluent. Parents today want their child and their Lexus, too -- which accounts for the new culture of parental privilege that Burkett aptly calls "the baby boon."

Burkett reports from the front lines of the workplace: from the hallowed newsroom of "The New York Times" to the floor of a texti

Author Notes

Elinor Burkett was a professor of history before becoming a journalist. She won numerous awards for her work at The Miami Herald and has written articles for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, and Mirabella. She divides her time between the Catskills and New York City.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The pro-family policies both President Clinton and his congressional opposition tout, and the family-friendly services and benefits many "progressive" businesses provide, are, Burkett argues, unfair, unwise, and undemocratic. At work, childless employees pick up the slack for parent-coworkers' family time off, and on April 15, childbearing taxpayers get deductions for children and childcare for which childless John and Jane Doe pick up the tab. Those situations have already ignited resentful rebellion. Marshaling research findings, anecdotal evidence, and impassioned reasoning, Burkett makes her case infectiously readable. Equity at home and on the job, not endorsement of parenthood over other lifestyle decisions, and assistance to genuinely needy parents and children instead of the middle-class families benefiting from present and pending pro-family policies are what an egalitarian democracy should strive for, she says. The huge question she leaves begging is whether the proposition that "parenting is holy, a sacred calling" that makes parents deserving of greater support can and should be discounted as summarily as she discounts it. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

We may think of babies as "bundles of joy," but according to Burkett they are also bundles of cash--for their parents. In this provocative and well-documented study, the journalist and former history professor (Representative Mom, etc.) presents a case that new "family friendly" tax credits, child-care benefits and flextime policies, implemented over the past 15 years by government and businesses, not only work to the detriment of those without children but, in reality, help only the most affluent families (usually baby boomers). Drawing on firsthand interviews with parents, social policy makers, business leaders, feminists and elected officials, Burkett writes in a tone of moral outrage, and is unafraid to take controversial stands: she argues that workplace day care, for a series of complex reasons, is overwhelmingly used by middle-class white parents, although all workers pay for it; that school vouchers are essentially a boon for middle- and upper-middle-class parents at the expense of universal public education; and that many "family friendly" policies are in direct violation of the 1963 Equal Pay Act that mandated "pay for work done, rather then for the number of dependents." But perhaps Burkett's most contentious views are those attacking deeply held beliefs that there is something morally superior about having children, and what she sees as an ingrained prejudice against the childless.This incendiary book promises to stir public debate and elicit strong reactions. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

"Armed with hard data and grassroots reporting, Burkett fires the first shot in the battle to come." So begins the publishing announcement for historian-turned-journalist Burkett's latest book--a book that's fighting a previously underfought battle. Effectively weaving statistics and anecdotes together, Burkett demonstrates just how the family-friendly policies of contemporary American society unfairly puts workers without children at a disadvantage. The book's three unique sections each address different components of the debate. The first part, "America's New Family-Friendly Face," provides historical background to new federal and corporate policies. "For the Children" elaborates on Burkett's thesis that pure politics is driving this pendulum swing. Her last section, "Balancing Act," draws on all the various strands of her argument, leaving her pondering the dilemma without a significant resolution. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.--Sheila Devaney, Univ. of Georgia Lib., Athens (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

All Animals Are Equalp. 1
Part 1 America's New Family-Friendly Face In the Workplace and in Public Policy
1. Unequal Work for Unequal Payp. 25
2. Pregnant Payoffsp. 62
Part 2 For the Children? Hardly--Pure Politics Are Driving This Train
3. For the Sake of Which Children?p. 91
4. Family Frenzyp. 118
5. The Maternal Mystiquep. 147
Part 3 Balancing Act
6. No Kiddingp. 179
7. When the Bough Breaksp. 199
Notesp. 219
Bibliographyp. 243
Acknowledgmentsp. 247
Indexp. 249