Dual-career families - balancing the needs

In the past few decades, the economic arrangement of families in the U.S. has changed substantially. In the 1940's most families followed the model of a bread-winner father and home-maker mother, with only about 20% of families being dual-earner or single-parent families. In contrast, in the 90's about 70% of families were dual-earner or single-parent families. This shift potentially has an impact on children's wellbeing and development, and consequently on society. Policy makers are concerned with this and working on finding arrangements that balance the needs of all parties satisfactorily.

In this activity you will think about the different parties that are involved in these changes, discuss the different pressures and needs that have to be taken into account and come up with a policy suggestion.

In preparation for this activity, read the following relevant policy statements:

(There is also a relevant article in a recent Time Magazine, which I'll be happy to provide on request.)

Each of the people in your group should take one of the following roles (if you have less than 5 people, start with the first roles. Hopefully you have at least 3!)

  1. Child
  2. Parent
  3. Employer
  4. Tax-payer
  5. Child-care provider
In your discussion, each party should advocate for their own interests.

1. For each role represented in your group, briefly (in one or two sentences) state your position.

2. Suggest one policy change that can help balance the needs of all parties.


skills practiced
  • think critically about classic and contemporary issues of child development.
  • apply research findings to concrete problems in the real world.
  • use research to evaluate critically popular reports and applied issues.
  • integrating and evaluating information from multiple sources.