In my undergrad, I had one of the best experiences on learning to be a global citizen. For three out of my four years at Georgia Tech, I was a resident of the International House, or more commonly known as the iHouse. While there I got to meet some of the most brilliant, young, and open-minded individuals from around the world including my best friend, Cathy from Australia. Here I got to learn about the different cultures of all the exchange students’ homeland, including family traditions, sports, foods, and economies. On the latter, I was most envious of my friends from Finland who had just over 3 years of PAID leave when they had a kid. Granted their taxes are much higher than the ones in the U.S. (based on the information that I could understand), this is a huge advantage for my friends (men and women) over in Finland who are looking to have a family without having to sacrifice their career. However, you’d think that with the U.S. having a better GDP per capita than Finland that we’d have a comparable paid family-leave plan, right?
Nope. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
That’s exactly how much we compare to Finland and all other developed countries, according to the chart above from a video made by The Cut, (article*). The video also goes into additional disturbing facts on how the American economy dissuades a majority of the workforce to not have children. I was disappointed, but not surprised by these numbers. In one of my jobs, the company offered short-term disability outside of their normal benefits package, which women could use whenever they have a child. But, it only offered three weeks coverage at 75% of your normal pay after you’ve used twelve weeks of FMLA, (if you qualified). This, sadly, doesn’t allow a majority of the working population the financial luxury to afford having a family anymore even if both parents are working, (additional thoughts on benefits/compensation).
What will be the future ramifications, though? My expectations will be that the next generation will have had less parental interaction/influence, an increased expectation to work more throughout their lives, and a heavier reliance on technological support to complete the required labor needed for our manufacturing needs. Though there are inherent advantages to these changes, these economic limitations seem the starting point to a very similar path going on in China, (robotics video). Skynet, anyone?
Steering away from the potential “conspiracy theory” thought and my personal viewpoints on these topics, the point that does need to be addressed is what are we, the working population, willing to do with the compensation we currently have and how far will we go to get the fair compensation that will make our economy stable? Can our American companies support this effectively without negatively impacting other aspects of the business or industry? We, America, can get there and it’s not some ideal theory because other developed countries are providing better benefits that our current economic statures. What’s holding us back: the 1%, lack of understanding proper financial strategies, or something else? Thoughts, (especially from my economist friends)? Please share here or send me a Tweet @KaitCook18.
*The video can’t be viewed unless you have a Facebook account and “Like” The Cut’s page.
Photo Credit: http://www.havingababy.link/category/time-of-having-a-baby/