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Of the four family policies in the Democrats’ bill, which is the most important?

But others said they would prefer the money to go directly to daycare or kindergarten because it would help mothers work. “I’m always very sensitive to policies that even unintentionally discourage mothers’ participation in the workforce,” said Barbara Risman, a sociologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “In the long run, these families will have fewer resources if the mothers have lower income potential. “

“It allows families to do what they think is best for their families as much as possible. “- H. Luke Shaefer, Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy, University of Michigan

“We have fairly clear evidence that more financial resources for families with young children have significant and lasting impacts. “- Maya Rossin-Slater, Associate Professor of Health Economics and Policy, Stanford

“The money can be spent on anything, not just child care, and it will cover children older than the usual age at which child care is used.” – Claudia Goldin, Professor of Economics, Harvard

“It may reduce child poverty right now, is likely to improve long-term mobility and is unlikely to reduce employment for mothers.” – Joanna Pepin, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Buffalo

“Families are getting it now, and what a shame it would be to take it away.” – Jane Waldfogel, professor of social work, Colombia

Three of the experts chose this as the most important. The plan under consideration would make childcare free for those on the lowest incomes. And it would cost no more than 7% of income for others, up to a certain income.

“It would likely attract more women into the workforce, so the overall gains for the family would be more than the reduction in childcare costs,” said Jill Yavorsky, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina , Charlotte.

It would also help close racial gaps, as black and Hispanic women found themselves disproportionately unemployed during the pandemic, said Fatima Suarez, a sociologist at Stanford. “Childcare subsidies are not just a family issue, but a race, class and gender issue,” she said.

Others said the subsidies alone would not be enough to address other childcare issues, such as unavailability, low provider salaries and varying levels of quality. And some preferred a universal benefit over a means-tested benefit – that would make the program more popular and improve quality, they said, and child care is unaffordable for many middle-class families.

“This would provide the greatest benefit to mothers who do not earn enough income to cover childcare costs.” – Jill Yavorsky, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

“Essential workers are disproportionately women of color, and they don’t earn enough to survive, let alone pay for child care.” – Fatima Suarez, Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford

“I’m weighing what would help the most families for the longest time with the most money in the parents’ pockets.” – Caitlyn Collins, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Washington University in St. Louis

The United States is the only wealthy country without a federal mandate to provide paid time off for new parents or for medical emergencies. The Democrats’ plan would give American workers up to 12 weeks. Research has shown that this would particularly benefit people with lower incomes and those in precarious jobs, who are now at risk of falling into poverty if they need care or are sick.

“It provides a necessary safety net for low-income families as they go through major life events,” said Youngjoo Cha, a sociologist at Indiana University at Bloomington. “It has a strong implication for gender equality at work and at home. It will also generate a lasting effect of equalizing the gender division of labor in the home. “

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