Parental Leave Policies in the United States

With my paper I will look to to examine the historical background of parental leave systems in the United States since their beginnings during the post-World War II era. I will be looking at this history through the lens of the Presidency and Congress in policy creation. The core question of my paper will be, “are presidents more likely to promise reforms of this particular issue, or is Congress?”

This is a topic of interest because I studied this same phenomenon while I was abroad in Santiago, Chile. Although the circumstances of the study were different, through my four-month investigation I gained great insight into the complexities and implications of parental leave systems and policies. As an international relations major, I have always been excited and curious about the particular narrative in the United States. Additionally, I have always taken particular interest in social policies and their processes in both domestic and international arenas.

Parental leave policies have clear implications for gender relations, human rights, health and welfare. There are over 157.0 million women in the United States (20012 Census). At some point nearly every woman will experience childbirth. With such a large segment of the population affected by the reach of parental leave and issues of health-related welfare, it becomes essential to have a developed understanding of historical policies and their relative success. Women’s rights and welfare have been part of federal-level policy making in this country for over half a century. Consequently, the institutions of the President and Congress have had direct impact on such policies. With this paper I look to explore that impact and set the stage for an educated and historically based discussion regarding the modern-day circumstances.

A component of my paper that I am concerned about is the methodology of comparing different eras of United States history. I have had been receiving great guidance from my history professor at my college but still haven’t wrapped by head around how I will be arranging the analysis. At this point I am considering doing a chronological analysis with possible case studies, which will hopefully result in the discovery of policymaking trends.

The aspect of my paper topic that I am most excited about is the reach of the topic. Parental leave touches so many sectors in our society and the research regarding the historical trends are meager. There are many scholarly articles and investigations regarding social welfare and the health, psychological, economic and cultural impacts of parental leave policies; however, there isn’t much research regarding the history of policy making in the federal government. Through this investigation I look to develop an historical foundation of understanding that modern-day policymakers can look at in order to formulate effective and successful policies.

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One Response to Parental Leave Policies in the United States

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