A Child-Centered Approach to Paid Family Leave: A Conversation


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The COVID-19 pandemic has led communities to shutter businesses, schools, and public places, requiring families to undertake multiple roles at once: caregivers, educators, and workers. As our society relies on the health and capability of families right now, policymakers should consider future measures that strengthen families, particularly in their childrearing roles.

Family leave policies can be structured in widely divergent ways and aimed at very different ends. With a proliferation of proposals, it is vital that policymakers make evidence-based decisions with clear pathways to implementation and reasonable expectations of achieving specific policy outcomes.

Join the Institute for Family Studies (IFS) and the Center for Public Justice (CPJ) for a conversation on a new paper written by Lyman Stone (IFS research fellow and American Enterprise Institute Adjunct Fellow), and CPJ Resident Fellow and Director of the Families Valued Initiative Rachel Anderson, who offer their thoughts on how these policies can best be structured, and what it means for millions of families who stand to benefit from them. Isabel V. Sawhill (Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, working in the Center on Children and Families and on the Future of the Middle Class Initiative) also responds to the policies proposed in the paper. This conversation is moderated by Brad Wilcox (IFS senior fellow and professor of sociology at the University of Virginia).


About the Speakers

Rachel Anderson, Center for Public Justice

Rachel Anderson is a Resident Fellow with the Center for Public Justice, leading the Families Valued initiative. Her work focuses on work and family policy and faith-based civic engagement. Previously, Rachel served as the Director of Faith Affairs at the Center for Responsible Lending, where she worked with faith leaders at the state and federal level to advocate for protections against predatory lending. She is a graduate of Harvard Law and Divinity Schools. Rachel is the parent of two young children, and a member of an inter-generational household with her kids, husband, and her parents, outside of DC.

Isabel V. Sawhill, Brookings Institution

Isabel V. Sawhill is a senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, working in the Center on Children and Families and on the Future of the Middle Class Initiative. Dr. Sawhill’s research spans a wide array of economic and social issues, including fiscal policy, economic growth, poverty, social mobility, and inequality. Her latest book is The Forgotten Americans: An Economic Agenda for a Divided Nation, published by Yale University Press in 2018. She served as vice president and director of the Economic Studies program from 2003 to 2006, and as co-director of the Center on Children and Families from 2006 to 2015. Prior to joining Brookings, Dr. Sawhill was a senior fellow at The Urban Institute. She served in the Clinton Administration as an Associate Director of OMB, where her responsibilities included all of the human resource programs of the federal government, accounting for one third of the federal budget. Dr. Sawhill has authored or edited numerous books, including Generation Unbound: Drifting Into Sex and Parenthood Without Marriage, Creating an Opportunity Society (with Ron Haskins), Restoring Fiscal Sanity 2005, Meeting the Long-Run Challenge and Restoring Fiscal Sanity: How to Balance the Budget, (both with Alice Rivlin); and One Percent for the Kids: New Policies, Brighter Futures for America’s Children. Dr. Sawhill has been a Visiting Professor at Georgetown Law School, Director of the National Commission for Employment Policy, and President of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. She also serves on a number of boards. She attended Wellesley College and received her Ph.D. from New York University.

Lyman Stone, Institute for Family Studies

Lyman Stone is the Chief Information Officer of the population consulting firm Demographic Intelligence, a Research Fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, and an Adjunct Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He is a former International Economist at the US Department of Agriculture, where he forecasted cotton market conditions. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, South China Morning Post, and many other media outlets. He and his family live in Hong Kong.

Bradford (Brad) Wilcox, University of Virginia

Bradford (Brad) Wilcox is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he directs The Home Economics Project. Inaugurated in fall of 2013, the research project explores the links between family structure and economic growth in 20 countries around the world — more specifically, how marriage and a strong family life foster free enterprise. Wilcox is also an associate professor in the department of sociology at the University of Virginia, where he directs the National Marriage Project. He is a fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University and has been a research fellow at Yale University, a research associate at Princeton University, and a Civitas Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is additionally the author of When Marriage Disappears: The Retreat from Marriage in Middle America and the coauthor, with Kathleen Kovner Kline, of Biological and Social Scientific Perspectives. Wilcox has a master’s degree and a doctorate in sociology from Princeton University. His bachelor’s degree in government is from the University of Virginia.