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The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless

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Who stays late at the office when Mom leaves for a soccer match? Whose dollars pay for the tax credits, childcare benefits, and school vouchers that only parents can utilize? Who is forced to take those undesirable weekend business trips that Dad refuses? The answer: Adults without children -- most of them women -- have shouldered more than their share of the cost of famil Who stays late at the office when Mom leaves for a soccer match? Whose dollars pay for the tax credits, childcare benefits, and school vouchers that only parents can utilize? Who is forced to take those undesirable weekend business trips that Dad refuses? The answer: Adults without children -- most of them women -- have shouldered more than their share of the cost of family-friendly America. Until now. "Equal Pay for Equal Work" is one of the foundations of modern American work life. But workers without children do not reap the same rewards as do their colleagues who are parents. Instead, as veteran journalist Elinor Burkett reveals, the past decade has seen the most massive redistribution of wealth since the War on Poverty -- this time not from rich to poor but from nonparents, no matter how modest their means, to parents, no matter how affluent. Parents today want their child and their Lexus, too -- which accounts for the new culture of parental privilege that Burkett aptly calls "the baby boon." Burkett reports from the front lines of the workplace: from the hallowed newsroom of "The New York Times" to the floor of a textile factory in North Carolina to a hospital in Boston. She exposes a simmering backlash against perks for parents, from workers who are losing their tempers and fighting for their rights. She spells out how tax breaks for families with six-figure incomes are not available to childless people earning half as much. And she tells the dramatic story of how pro-family conservatives and feminists became strange bedfellows on the issue of pro-family rights, leading to an increase in workplace and government entitlements for parents -- at the same time as the childless poor lost their public benefits. Americans are on a demographic collision course between the growing numbers of mothers in the workforce and the swelling ranks of a new interest group: childless adults. Armed with hard data and grassroots reporting, Elinor Burkett points the way to a more equitable future. With an inside look at what some companies are already doing to redress the grievances of childless workers and a hard assessment of what the truly needy -- children and adults -- require in order to survive, Burkett fires the first shot in the battle to come.


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Who stays late at the office when Mom leaves for a soccer match? Whose dollars pay for the tax credits, childcare benefits, and school vouchers that only parents can utilize? Who is forced to take those undesirable weekend business trips that Dad refuses? The answer: Adults without children -- most of them women -- have shouldered more than their share of the cost of famil Who stays late at the office when Mom leaves for a soccer match? Whose dollars pay for the tax credits, childcare benefits, and school vouchers that only parents can utilize? Who is forced to take those undesirable weekend business trips that Dad refuses? The answer: Adults without children -- most of them women -- have shouldered more than their share of the cost of family-friendly America. Until now. "Equal Pay for Equal Work" is one of the foundations of modern American work life. But workers without children do not reap the same rewards as do their colleagues who are parents. Instead, as veteran journalist Elinor Burkett reveals, the past decade has seen the most massive redistribution of wealth since the War on Poverty -- this time not from rich to poor but from nonparents, no matter how modest their means, to parents, no matter how affluent. Parents today want their child and their Lexus, too -- which accounts for the new culture of parental privilege that Burkett aptly calls "the baby boon." Burkett reports from the front lines of the workplace: from the hallowed newsroom of "The New York Times" to the floor of a textile factory in North Carolina to a hospital in Boston. She exposes a simmering backlash against perks for parents, from workers who are losing their tempers and fighting for their rights. She spells out how tax breaks for families with six-figure incomes are not available to childless people earning half as much. And she tells the dramatic story of how pro-family conservatives and feminists became strange bedfellows on the issue of pro-family rights, leading to an increase in workplace and government entitlements for parents -- at the same time as the childless poor lost their public benefits. Americans are on a demographic collision course between the growing numbers of mothers in the workforce and the swelling ranks of a new interest group: childless adults. Armed with hard data and grassroots reporting, Elinor Burkett points the way to a more equitable future. With an inside look at what some companies are already doing to redress the grievances of childless workers and a hard assessment of what the truly needy -- children and adults -- require in order to survive, Burkett fires the first shot in the battle to come.

30 review for The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joellyn

    This book was written back in I think 2000 and what it has to say applies today. I do think an updated/follow-up would be welcomed. This is a book that should be read by everyone, if you have kids or not. I believe it is a real eye opener as to how Corporate America works these days to protect families (but often leaving the lower income out of the equation) sometimes at the expense of those who do not have children (either by choice, circumstances, or health reasons), and also how our Government This book was written back in I think 2000 and what it has to say applies today. I do think an updated/follow-up would be welcomed. This is a book that should be read by everyone, if you have kids or not. I believe it is a real eye opener as to how Corporate America works these days to protect families (but often leaving the lower income out of the equation) sometimes at the expense of those who do not have children (either by choice, circumstances, or health reasons), and also how our Government (both Federal and State) contribute to the entitlement mentality that has evolved over the years. I think everyone at one time or another (or more frequently) has experienced the scenario of being the one asked to stay late, pick up the slack, work the weekend/holiday, change a vacation date, etc. while the co-worker with children basically makes their own hours for daycare pick-ups/soccer practice/etc., is home with a sick child at any given moment, "works from home" during school vacations/early dismissals, and even bring the children into work where there is often disruption to others (but I do appreciate those individuals who recognize the workplace and their children are well behaved so there is no disruption). The book also demonstrates how those individuals who are parents by choice and are considered middle class or above get plenty of tax incentives and corporate benefits that lower income families do not receive and in most cases should and perhaps reduce the # on welfare. Meanwhile those without children must contribute to all and get virtually no breaks. As I have heard before, having children is a choice not a right or a duty. And if you choose to have a child that shouldn't mean you get rewarded or treated differently (especially in the workplace) often at the expense of those individuals who choose not to have a child or are unable.

  2. 4 out of 5

    A. T. Adlen

    FUN FACT: Before I bought this book, I went on Amazon to read reviews and this troll who goes by the name of Paul Gaboury, went on every single review and responded with this comment: Initial post: Dec 3, 2006 4:06:46 PM PST Paul Gaboury says: My name is Paul Gaboury. The author, Elinor Burkett is my sister in law. Her characterization of my wife and our home is innacurate in the extreme. We became aware of the contents of the book only after it hit the bookstands. At that time, we sent a letter to FUN FACT: Before I bought this book, I went on Amazon to read reviews and this troll who goes by the name of Paul Gaboury, went on every single review and responded with this comment: Initial post: Dec 3, 2006 4:06:46 PM PST Paul Gaboury says: My name is Paul Gaboury. The author, Elinor Burkett is my sister in law. Her characterization of my wife and our home is innacurate in the extreme. We became aware of the contents of the book only after it hit the bookstands. At that time, we sent a letter to the publisher to correct the misrepresentations made. We did not receive a response. We had a choice to sue. For family considerations, we did not. Now we find references to my wife in the internet which was brought to our attention by a member of our family. Finally, and again, the characterizations of Michele Gaboury, my wife and the author's sister-in-law are innaccurate in the extreme. They end up acheiving extreme polarizing views which perhaps help strengthen Ms. Burkett's premise. But they also damage my wife's reputation severely when anyone, including her clients and professional associates can google her name and view these comments and the book. Obviously it was made almost 6 years ago but then again, it was 6 years after the book was written. weird. Like I said Fun Fact!

  3. 4 out of 5

    42day

    Eye opening. Insightful look into the atrocities committed, in the name of babies, against the Childfree of America. Taking a deep look into the transfer of wealth from the Childfree to the breeders of the world. I didn't even realize I was a marginalized, demeaned, pigeonholed, over taxed, under appreciated, disenfranchised member of the newest minority in our society today! The book advocates total equality for all peoples in the tax code, that could very well over a period of years, add nearl Eye opening. Insightful look into the atrocities committed, in the name of babies, against the Childfree of America. Taking a deep look into the transfer of wealth from the Childfree to the breeders of the world. I didn't even realize I was a marginalized, demeaned, pigeonholed, over taxed, under appreciated, disenfranchised member of the newest minority in our society today! The book advocates total equality for all peoples in the tax code, that could very well over a period of years, add nearly 85 billion dollars or more to our floundering economy and burgeoning debt. Everyone should read this book, yes even the parents out there, be aware of what you are really doing to people like me with your minority discrimination, whether you realize it or not.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    As a childfree American I had high hopes for this book. But I was let down. It's largely about tax policy, which does not interest me. It is also a little outdated - the over the top family-friendly workplace policies mostly left when the economy tanked. I was looking for something more related to social capital. I want ppl w/ kids to appreciate that my time is worth as much as theirs. I want it not to be acceptable that when a 40yo acquaintance dies ppl say, "Well at least he didn't have kids," As a childfree American I had high hopes for this book. But I was let down. It's largely about tax policy, which does not interest me. It is also a little outdated - the over the top family-friendly workplace policies mostly left when the economy tanked. I was looking for something more related to social capital. I want ppl w/ kids to appreciate that my time is worth as much as theirs. I want it not to be acceptable that when a 40yo acquaintance dies ppl say, "Well at least he didn't have kids," as if a childfree person dying is less sad than a parent dying. This is not the book for that.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Renee Hierholzer

    This book still resonates with me 20 years after I read it. Thoughtful perspective on our inherent biases toward those without children from an excellent writer.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor White

    so fucking american

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brittnee

    I was excited about this book, but it fell short. The “Ten Commandments” were so ridiculous that I switched to skimming rather than reading the remainder of the book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Evermore

    I didn't so much read this book, as skim through it. It's some interesting material for people who feel that society should support and embrace their decision to be childless, but mostly it's a lot of politics and ranting, without much in the way of positive suggestions or ways to handle the fact that America is a family-focused society. For me, I don't care what other people choose to do, as far as becoming a parent. Mine is a very personal choice, and one which I don't feel I need validation o I didn't so much read this book, as skim through it. It's some interesting material for people who feel that society should support and embrace their decision to be childless, but mostly it's a lot of politics and ranting, without much in the way of positive suggestions or ways to handle the fact that America is a family-focused society. For me, I don't care what other people choose to do, as far as becoming a parent. Mine is a very personal choice, and one which I don't feel I need validation or special treatment from the rest of the world for. I don't hate children or feel that the childfree life is for just anyone. I would never try to convince other people that they should make the same decision I have, except that I did make the decision to pursue my greatest desires, which is one I *would* recommend. It just so happens that being a parent is not one of them. So really, I got little to nothing out of this book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brenna

    This was a difficult book for me to rate because I had times where I liked it and other times where I couldn't stand reading it! Elinor Burkett makes many wonderful points in this book that I had never considered before, specifically if we are offering so many benefits, tax breaks, and flex-time to people with children, isn't it then discrimination to not offer something similar to people without children. She notes that she feels that of course we should help families in need, but her real grip This was a difficult book for me to rate because I had times where I liked it and other times where I couldn't stand reading it! Elinor Burkett makes many wonderful points in this book that I had never considered before, specifically if we are offering so many benefits, tax breaks, and flex-time to people with children, isn't it then discrimination to not offer something similar to people without children. She notes that she feels that of course we should help families in need, but her real gripe is with middle to upper class families who don't really need financial help taking that help away from families living in poverty. Each chapter in the book had a different feel to it, some I found fascinating, but many I found VERY repetitive. What I really wanted to see was some sort of suggestions offered to help rectify this inequality, but that was made on a very limited basis and really only at the end of the book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    Many of her points are well taken, and I'm sympathetic to the overall equality argument proffered because I am childfree and get tired of the endless ways I am expected to pick up the slack for parents. I also grow weary of the judgments I face for choosing a life without children. That said, holy smokes is her authorial voice grating. It's defensive, dismissive and relentlessly self-righteous. Also, she plays fast and loose with the precise chronology of recent historical events and policy measu Many of her points are well taken, and I'm sympathetic to the overall equality argument proffered because I am childfree and get tired of the endless ways I am expected to pick up the slack for parents. I also grow weary of the judgments I face for choosing a life without children. That said, holy smokes is her authorial voice grating. It's defensive, dismissive and relentlessly self-righteous. Also, she plays fast and loose with the precise chronology of recent historical events and policy measures and keeps claiming a growing trend that has been all but undone by the rising birthrate of the last decade. It's moderately successful screed if you can get past her obnoxiousness, but it's lousy scholarship and weak journalism.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Wellington

    Throughout the book I was reminded me of The Simpsons character, Reverend Lovejoy’s wife. Every time there was a controversy, she lamented “What about the children?!” Elinor bravely challenges the sacredness of having children. Businesses and the government are catering to the child-bearing adults – namely the middle class and above adults – at the expense of the childfree and the low income families. Like abortion, this is a subject that everyone has an already set opinion. However, it’s A LOT ea Throughout the book I was reminded me of The Simpsons character, Reverend Lovejoy’s wife. Every time there was a controversy, she lamented “What about the children?!” Elinor bravely challenges the sacredness of having children. Businesses and the government are catering to the child-bearing adults – namely the middle class and above adults – at the expense of the childfree and the low income families. Like abortion, this is a subject that everyone has an already set opinion. However, it’s A LOT easier to make a speech about how wonderful children are than someone trying to explain to a single aunt about why you don’t have a child. It’s politically correct to want kids. I applaud Elinor for braving these waters; I’m sure she has lost a lot of friends.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kristi

    I want to give this book a good review because there's not a lot out there about the ramifications of being childfree by choice. But I have to admit that the topic alone does not garner a good review. This book dated poorly. I simply didn't care for the the in-depth history and back & forth between people who are no longer active political players. It might have been a really good & relevant book at the time it was written, and there are some points that are relevant today, but it is dated and t I want to give this book a good review because there's not a lot out there about the ramifications of being childfree by choice. But I have to admit that the topic alone does not garner a good review. This book dated poorly. I simply didn't care for the the in-depth history and back & forth between people who are no longer active political players. It might have been a really good & relevant book at the time it was written, and there are some points that are relevant today, but it is dated and too long in reading it today.

  13. 4 out of 5

    goldslippersandpinkheels

    I think this book is good for pointing out some of these issues. I also agree with some of the other reviewers who point out that the book has not aged well. I think that it would be more helpful if the author was able to make her points without sounding so bitter. Overall the book was just really depressing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    A somewhat controversial look at how American society favors those with children...socially, economically, culturally. Likely to irritate parents while ringing quite true with the childfree. A sad but true scientific/statistical analysis of an aspect of society to which most are oblivious.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Towards the end, when Elinor starts listing out all the ways that parents get privileges vs the childfree, I got real annoyed. REAL annoyed. I'm lucky that I don't experience this at work, but I'm not sure if that's because I'm shielded from it by my childfree coworkers.

  16. 4 out of 5

    J.L. Byers

  17. 5 out of 5

    Felicia

  18. 5 out of 5

    Debra Wall

  19. 4 out of 5

    Peggy

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stacey Stewart

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maria Wroblewski

  22. 5 out of 5

    Susan Haines

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cori McGraw

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joy

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Williams

  26. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joanne M Dodson

  28. 5 out of 5

    Moose

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marie Lyn (SassyUrbanite)

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