Social Question

submariner's avatar

Working parents: would you rather have more time or more money?

Asked by submariner (4160points) February 20th, 2011

Suppose that US politicians decide they want to address the needs of working families. They come up with two competing plans:

Plan 40/0: Raise wages & salaries so that a single semi-skilled worker working 40 hours a week can support a reasonable middle-class lifestyle (defined however you like), and various incentives or disincentives would discourage both parents from working. Most couples with children would have a working partner and a stay-at-home partner under this plan. Single parents would earn enough to pay for day care, but might need additional subsidies.

Plan 20/20: Raise wages so that 40 hours of work can support a family, as above, but the work week would lowered to 20 hours. Most couples would have two working partners, but they would usually be able to arrange their shifts so that one parent was home while the other worked. Single parents would either work two jobs to pay for day care, or network with each other to trade childcare, or have lifestyles that were more modest than “reasonable middle-class”.

I’m not concerned about how such plans would be implemented or whether either is “realistic”. I just want to know which outcome you would prefer.

If you don’t live in the US, I’d be interested in knowing how the competing demands of work and family are handled in your country.

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24 Answers

Coloma's avatar

I felt very strongly about raising my daughter during her formative years.

Time has always trumped money for me.

I was a mom at home until my daughter was 11 when I returned to work part time, 25 hours a week. I worked 9–2 so it was perfect, I still was available before and after school and felt no guilt.

I strongly believe in creating a situation that allows at least one parent to be as available as needed during the formative years.

I support the 20/20 plan. I have always thought that working a 6 hour day is more than enough, but, obviously unrealistic for most.

I have made mention elsewhere here that I think that what it takes to survive in our ‘modern’ world is extremely detrimental to relationships of all kinds, especially for children.

Sure, we all need to maintain a decent living standard but, kids want their parents TIME, not another X-box.

I made plenty of sacrifices to be a mom in the home during those years but, I wouldn’t change a thing and am proud I was able to really be there to raise my child.

the100thmonkey's avatar

Time time time time time.

There is no contest.

The 40/0 – and indeed the 20/20 – plan exists in the UK under the guise of the minimum wage and the tax credit systems. My wife’s English was never good enough to work in the UK, so I took on the role of breadwinner. I worked 40–50 hour weeks for about 5 years while we lived there, and I would have far preferred to be more available for my wife and kids. There is nothing more I can really say.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Personally, I’d like the 20/20 plan better. That way both of us would get more time with our children. I also don’t like being a SAHM. I love being a nurse and love what I do as a nurse and I wouldn’t be happy to just give that up. If my husband wanted to be home all the time, the 40/0 plan would be fine too. It just seems like the 20/20 plan is better for giving both parents more time with their children, instead of just the one SAHP.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Unless I am misunderstanding the question, your two plans both provide the same amount of money. Why not take the one that gives each person a more equal share of time and household responsibilities, then? I’d take the time over the money any day.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’ll take the first one.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I think they can both co-exist. In the first one, you could have a two-parent, single breadwinner household with a SAH parent. The second would allow for parents to split child care duties, which may or may not fit with business models. In theory it would seem to eliminate the need for day care, but in practical application, a 20 hour week is in reality a 30 hour week, and child care would need to be accounted for.

On the other hand, a 20 hour week model should, in theory, create more employment opportunities and businesses would be able to hire more people to get the work done that needs to be done. This would only be workable with a socialized health plan, as businesses could not afford doubling health care benefits for a doubled work force, without driving up costs of goods and services. With the increased burden of higher wages to begin with, there would be a lot of companies going under because of increased overhead costs.

Cruiser's avatar

I support freedom to pick and choose a job and hours that suits you and your family needs! No need for more government programs that add to the cost of goods sold.

cookieman's avatar

B please.

submariner's avatar

Thanks for your answers.

@BarnacleBill Yes, my hypothetical choice is artificially simple for the sake of argument. The feasibility and ramifications of a shorter workweek merit a thread to themselves. Expect to see one soon. For now, I mainly want to see where people’s preferences lie.

@Cruiser Let’s set aside the issue of gov’t intervention for now. It is conceivable that market forces might push wages and work hours in one direction or the other without gov’t action. If so, which outcome would you prefer?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

We’d like more money in order to make the most of the time we do have for the kids. With more money we can pay someone to shuttle them to their appts., clean the house so we all just tear it up in fun and run off to the next point of interest, more money to jump in the car and take a day trip or overnight night and not worry about lodging, meals or entry fees. More money would also mean we could try and bribe the kids’ mother and SO to move closer to us so we can have more time.

12Oaks's avatar

I have enough time. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, etc. is plenty enough. I would like to have more money, of course. My only thing is I would like to find my own way to make more money, or time, for myself and not depend on Congress or any other US politician to do for me what is actually mine to do for myself. I now more want Congress to dictate my wages or time spent at work (those things I could negotiate with my employer with no govermental interference) than I want Congress to determine for me when I could retire or manage my financial concerns during retirement (I will also retire when I want on my own terms and not depend on outside income).

submariner's avatar

@12Oaks

I allowed some extraneous considerations to creep in when I framed this question. Let me boil this question down to its essence.

Which would you prefer:

40/0: One parent works 40 hours per week, the other stays home and does not work, or
20/20: Both parents work 20 hours per week, and each stays home while the other is at work.

If those were your options, which would you choose?

Assume that both options would bring in the same total amount of money and that the work is satisfying or at least tolerable.

Never mind the gov’t. or how this might come about. We can debate the role of govt. on another thread.

Bellatrix's avatar

I would go with the 20/20 option. I have been a SAHM and a full-time working mother and I have worked part time out of the house and part time in the home and the latter option worked best for me. I think it would be great to be able to share parenting duties. It would be the best of both worlds and I often feel children whose dads work full-time or long hours miss out on that father/child relationship. I think dads bring something very special to their children but many of them are so busy working they don’t get to enjoy being a father.

12Oaks's avatar

@submariner Fair enough. I’d assume the 40/0 way. Or actually, the 60/0 or more way. I’d prefer the one working way so the other could stay home and raise the kids and not have to pay strangers to do what you should be doing for yourself.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@submariner: with your new options, I’d go for 40/0 with the option for the spouses to trade out at some point. I agree with @120aks in that I’d prefer to raise my kids rather than have them in day care of any sort.

Seaofclouds's avatar

With the 20/20, the spouses could work opposite shifts/days and the children could always be home with their parents, giving both parents time with their children, instead of just the SAHP.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@12Oaks Your usual obsession with money aside, the 20/20 option would allow the shifts to be staggered such that one parent could be home at all times. Also, these aren’t new options. They are the original options. From the OP:

“Most couples would have two working partners, but they would usually be able to arrange their shifts so that one parent was home while the other worked.”

12Oaks's avatar

@SavoirFaire I don’t have an obscession with money, but like most, I sure could use a little more. Seeing that the question was “would you rather have more time or more money?”, I really thought saying something about money may have been in order. However, my main point was in the explaination of the question. My main point was when I said “not depend on Congress or any other US politician to do for me what is actually mine to do for myself.” This may be a good idea, and certainly employees could address it with their employers and come up with a compensation package that addresses their needs as a working parent. I just don’t believe that US Politicians (as addressed in the question) should be involved with such things. I don’t need them to negotiate a conpensation package for me (I do well on my own), to tell me when I should do the laundry or turn on and off light bulbs (I do laundry when I want and operate light switches in the same fashion), or to tell me what kind of medical insurance I have to buy (I opt out and am self-insured). If you want someone to negotiate your compensation package for you or if you want to buy health insurance, that’s fine, that should be your decision. The US Politicians really should have no say in such matters. That was my point. Setting speed limits? Fine, we could all appreciate that. telling me what hours I should work? Frankly, that’s no one’s business but mine and my employer.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@12Oaks You can barely write a single answer or ask a single question without making it about money. You are obsessed. And the bit about politicians was just for framing the question. That was addressed before you even posted your response.

12Oaks's avatar

@SavoirFaire I had to check to see if you’re corrrect. I asked 15 questions, 3 had to do with money. This was a question asking for working parents (which I am) and giving the choice between time and money. I didn’t check my answer ratio, but am sure less then 50% would have anything to do with money that the question didn’t ask about, like this one. Maybe it’s because I’m closing in on retirement here and making sure all my nest eggs are in a safe basket. Baseball season’s coming in May, so don’t be surprised to see if I start relating things to baseball then. Love my season tickets. Got the best seat on the house. the boys are in a new league this year, and it’s setting up to be one great season. Can’t wait to meet the boys and have our annual dinner with them. Good times for all. I always have spare tickets, and if you’re ever in town @SaviorFaire I’d be happy for you to come as a guest of mine.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@12Oaks My count has at least eight of them being about money (betting is still about money, especially since you proudly refer to your tax dodging in it). Your other obsession is conspicuous consumption, like when you talk about the putatively great things you own (e.g., baseball tickets). I’m not really one for Plato, but there’s a bit in Book VIII of the Republic that describes you to a T. It goes from 550c to 555a if you’re interested.

12Oaks's avatar

@SavoirFaire May I ask…. what is wrong with a little gambling or buying season tickets for baseball games? I like baseball games. I like going to baseball games. They won’t let you in for free to baseball games. I really don’t see what is so awful about that. Money as well. I didn’t invent the stuff, and you need it to live on. What is wrong with trying to get as much as possible so you could then retire on your own terms? Thak you for your book suggestion and offering me to buy it (with money, I suppose) but like you, I really ain’t into Plato so will take a pass. But please, if you decide to reply, address the baseball thing and please tell me what is so wrong with wanting a little enjoyment in ones life.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@12Oaks I haven’t said that there is anything wrong with gambling or baseball tickets. I’ve suggested there is something unhealthy about being obsessed with money and conspicuous consumption. Those are different things: one can gamble or buy baseball tickets sans obsession. Nor do I think there is anything awful about money in itself. Treating it as the highest good, however, seems quite misguided—as does the desire to get as much as possible. I could see wanting to get as much as necessary, and perhaps even a little more—but not as much as possible.

Regarding Plato: the book is available for free (your favorite price) all over the internet. There are translations in most languages that are free from copyright. I recommend the Benjamin Jowett translation if you won’t spring for the Grube/Reeve version.

12Oaks's avatar

@SavoirFaire Actually, I rarely accept free things for the sake of getting something free. I don’t mind paying reasonable prices for things and paying for my own way. I happily paid more for my bicycle than for my van, and I would have rejected the offer of the store offered my bicycle, or my van as far as that goes, for free.

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