New Report Shows Families with Young Children Are More Likely to Face Economic Hardship

Release Date: 
December 13, 2016

New York, NY – Today, Demos, a New York-based think tank, released a new report examining the economic conditions and current lack of workplace policies that trap the parents of young children between supporting their families and providing care. The report, which is titled “The Parent Trap,” quantifies, for the first time, the economic hardship placed on working families due to the widespread absence of family-friendly policies in the workplace. This report was authored by Amy Traub, Associate Director of Policy and Research at Demos, Robert Hiltonsmith, Senior Policy Analyst at Demos, and Tamara Draut, Vice President of Policy and Research at Demos.

The report quantifies, for the first time, the economic hardship placed on working families due to the widespread absence of family-friendly policies in the workplace. 

By building a regression model based on data from the Current Population Survey’s 2013-2015 Annual Social and Economic Supplements, the report found:

Families with children under 5 are particularly vulnerable:

  • Lower Incomes: The drop in income associated with having a young child (under 5) is $14,850 for households with two adults or $16,610 for single women even after controlling for other factors.
  • Increased Risk of Living in Poverty: Single mothers with young children are 15 percent more likely to live in poverty than single women without children, after controlling for other factors.
  • Decreased employment: Partnered women with children have a 19 percent lower rate of participation in the labor force than partnered women without children. Moreover, mothers with just a high school education or below who live with a partner are 21 percent less likely to be in the labor force than their counterparts without children.

Once children reach school age the hardships faced by families decrease:

  • Increased Incomes: For parents living with a partner, having the youngest child reach age 5 increases household income by $30,440 or $9,980 for single mothers, after controlling for other factors.
  • Return to Workforce: Mothers living with a partner, who were disproportionately likely to leave the workforce when their children were young, are more likely to return once their youngest child is old enough for kindergarten.
  • Less Likely to Live in Poverty: Single mothers of school-age children are 6 percent less likely to be in poverty than their counterparts with children under 5, after controlling for other factors. 

Amy Traub, Associate Director of Policy and Research at Demos, and author of this report, explains, “Today’s lack of paid leave, unstable work schedules, low pay and severe shortage of high-quality, affordable childcare too often forces parents to choose between caring for and financially supporting their family. Parents and families shouldn’t be trapped between these impossible choices. We need companies and policymakers to come together and put in place policies that support working families, which ultimately support our economy as well.” 

To address the challenges highlighted in the report, Demos has recommended a number of policy proposals, including a paid leave insurance system to help working parents, raising the minimum wage, improving work schedules, improving access to affordable childcare and preschool and guaranteeing women reproductive rights.  While both private companies and cities and states across the country have moved these policies forward in recent weeks and months, much remains to be done.

Demos has worked on the issue of workers’ rights since 2011 and has a history of studying trends in workplace polices. Earlier this year Demos authored a report that helped pass paid family leave in New York State, offered suggestions on how businesses can benefit from family-friendly policies and just last week Demos released a brief outlining the need for new regulations to protect federal contract workers from wage theft. 

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Contact: Charlie DiPasquale | 240.481.6632 | cdipasquale@skdknick.com