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Kick the Baby!

maternity leaveThere is exactly one nation in the industrialized world that doesn't have an official policy regarding the provision of paid parental leave. Knowing me as the cranky old fart I am it will probably come as no shock to learn that it's us, the good old USA.

We are, in this regard, number one in baby-hating. Number 121 on the We-Hate-Little-Kids list would be the U.K., mired in economic austerity but granting its new parents a remarkably generous nine months off at 90% of pay. (See the chart below for a glance at how other equally civilized countries treat their new citizens and their parents.)

Now before you Ayn-Randers break out your giant foam fingers and wave them like idiots keep in mind that you're also cheering for more poor people and more dead children. Yes, that's right, having a child is the leading cause of poverty in the U.S., while studies have shown that paid parental leave can result in as much as a 20% drop in infant mortality. But, for the 1%, I suppose that's a bonus.

There are of course some good corporate citizens in the U.S. Google, for example, recently extended its paid leave from three to five months as it seems it's an excellent way to retain good employees. And while I'm happy to report that many states provide help for new parents (slideshow) there's no one standardized policy for all 50 states. And there should be.

There is certainly advocacy for federally-mandated parental leave in Washington but it's up to us to demand it. And what better place to start than the petition at Whitehouse.gov.


end rant

Chart of the Day: Paid Parental Leave: The U.S. Versus The World.

paid parental leave

Satisfyingly larger version of chart here.

(To spare you right-wing nincompoopery all comments are moderated.)
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