More Than Money
Issue #36
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Money and Work

Table of Contents

“Books: The Price of Motherhood Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued By Ann Crittenden”

Reviewed by Susan Irene Master *

Financial news writer and author Ann Crittenden has marshaled a persuasive volume of legal, child development, and economic reports showing that the American family is inadequately supported by any societal safety net. Comparing America's piecemeal, statevariant programs for young children and their mothers to the more robust policies of other countries, Crittenden acknowledges the "indispensable national service to their country" that American mothers give. She identifies mothers as "society's involuntary philanthropists" while observing that motherhood is "the single biggest risk factor for poverty in old age." The book includes such wide-ranging topics as high-profile divorces (like the Wendts and the McCaws) and their attempts to establish the monetary value of a wife, data and commentary on human father behavior, and an analysis of how a single legal case (Zoe Baird) has discouraged an entire generation of qualified and motivated professional women from pursuing high-profile public service jobs.

Crittenden offers a host of systemic solutions to the problems presented, such as creating many more good part-time jobs; reducing the hours of the standard, paid work week; pro-rating benefits for part-time work; providing temporary unemployment insurance and job training for mothers in the event of a divorce; adding unpaid household labor to the Gross National Product; eliminating "spouse" and "head of household" definitions on tax returns; providing free health coverage to all children and their caregivers; providing community support for parents, such as supervised playgrounds and before- and after-school programs conforming to parents' work hours; and free classes in child development and home visit programs for new parents. Perhaps most intriguing is Crittenden's question for those in positions of power, who are making decisions affecting the lives of American families: "Do we have enough people [in those positions] who have spent serious time with children?"

The Price of Motherhood Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued
By Ann Crittenden
(Henry Holt and Company, 2001)

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