Welcome to the Better Life Lab: the future of work, gender, and social policy.

Welcome to the Better Life Lab: the Future of Work, Gender, and Social Policy

Welcome to the Better Life Lab: the Future of Work, Gender, and Social Policy

Better Life Lab
The Future of Work, Gender, and Social Policy
May 12 2017 8:00 AM

Welcome to the Better Life Lab

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Photo illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker. Photo by I'm Priscilla/Unsplash.

In America, the pursuit of happiness is so critical to our national identity and purpose that we’ve written it into our Declaration of Independence. But the odds are stacked against us. Americans work among the longest hours of any advanced economy, and it’s making us sick, disengaged, and burnt out. Though we’re working harder and are more productive, the average worker is not reaping the benefits. We are the most “vacation deprived” of any advanced economy.

For more than 30 years, more women than men have graduated from college every year, yet men still earn more and dominate positions of power in politics, academics, the media, and virtually every industry and field. A majority of children are being raised in families where all parents work, and more than 65 million people provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or elderly family member or loved one, yet U.S. policies to help people combine work and life responsibilities are either antiquated or nonexistent.

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Paid family leave? Only an estimated 14 percent of Americans have it. One-quarter of all new mothers go back to work within two weeks. (Point of comparison: In 25 states, it’s illegal to separate a puppy from its mother before seven weeks.) Child care? In 33 states, the cost of infant care is higher than the cost of in-state college tuition. Flexible work hours? Only if you’re willing to take the Mommy (or Daddy) track.

The Better Life Lab Channel, a partnership between New America’s Better Life Lab and Slate, is launching with a pop-up blog that will explore why striking a good balance between work life and family life seems so unattainable for so many people—and what we as individuals, as organizations, and as policy makers can do about it. The blog will run between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and we hope you’ll join us to share ideas as well as your own stories of struggle and transformation.

Better Life Lab is a partnership of Slate and New America.

​Brigid Schulte is the director of the Better Life Lab at New America, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, & Play When No One Has the Time, and formerly an award-winning journalist at the Washington Post.

Alieza Durana is a senior policy analyst at New America, where she focuses on barriers to equity in housing, education, and family policy.