Thursday, November 30, 2006

Can't Dads Get "Out," Too?

Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal -- the dean of the work-family reporters -- let loose today with a preview of some new data about women who are staying home after the kids arrive. (Whether these women "opted out" of the workforce or were "pushed out," remains a lively debate, and Lisa Belkin, who coined the Opt-Out turn-of-phrase took on a pro-"push" Joan Williams in an interesting back-and-forth. But that's another discussion.)

At any rate, the nice folks over the Census Bureau were nice enough to leak some upcoming data to Shellenbarger. The information appears to show that the participation of moms in the labor force is falling across the board, not just amoung those rich enough to do it. This is all well and good, and I look forward to the full data coming out so that I can paw through it.

But ... once again, these numbers will never be enough to tell the full story. When women leave the workplace for family reasons, it's usually a family decision. What the dads doing in those families? Even if the Census stats won't capture that, I'd love to see someone -- and Shellenbarger is as good a candidate as any -- explore that dynamic in some depth. (And all of this leaves aside an altogether interesting and important question: are more dads opting out? If not ... why? But no one really cares enough to gather *those* stats.)

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