WMU News

Work and family is focus of economic lecture series

Aug. 30, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- Today's tight labor market has pushed family issues to the foreground of workplace consciousness, and an annual public lecture-seminar series at Western Michigan University will explore the economic ramifications that occur when work and family collide.

The series, titled "The Economics of Work and Family," will feature a number of national scholars who will examine critical issues ranging from child care policy and the Family and Medical Leave Act to fertility.

"With approximately two-thirds of mothers in the workforce and rising family participation by fathers, work and family concerns have moved to the forefront of the United State's employment policy agenda," says Dr. Emily P. Hoffman, WMU professor of economics and co-director of the series. "These concerns affect working mothers and fathers and their families directly, as well as other workers indirectly, as firms alter their compensation packages and nonpecuniary job characteristics to improve their competitiveness in a tight labor market."

Dr. David M. Blau, professor of economics and fellow of the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will kick off the series by talking about federal child care policy at 3 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 13, in Room 3508 of Knauss Hall.

Blau, a labor and population economist who specializes in the economics of child care, will speak on the topic of "Does Federal Child Care Policy Make Sense?" He has received numerous grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to conduct research on child care topics, including issues relating to the demand and supply of child care and the effects of child care on development. He has been a national leader in an effort to frame childcare debate in the terms of economics.

Other speakers scheduled in this year's series and the topics they will address are:

"Thinking About Child Care Policy," Dr. Barbara R. Bergmann, professor emerita of economics at University of Maryland and American University, Wednesday, Oct. 11;

"Parents' Work Time and the Family: 30 Years of Change," Dr. Cordelia W. Reimers, professor of economics at Hunter College and City University of New York, Wednesday, Nov. 15;

"The Economics of Fertility," Dr. Susan L. Averett, associate professor of economics and business, Lafayette College (Pa.), Wednesday, Jan. 17;

"Working for Families? Unpaid Leave and the Family and Medical Leave Act," Dr. Katherin Ross Phillips, research associate, The Urban Institute, Wednesday, Feb. 21; and

"How Family Structure Affects Labor Market Outcomes," Dr. Joyce P. Jacobsen, professor of economics, Wesleyan University (Conn.), Wednesday, March 21.

All lectures begin at 3 p.m. in Room 3508 of Knauss Hall and are free and open to the public. As part of their visit to WMU, each scholar also will present a seminar for professional economists, faculty and graduate students.

This is the 37th year that the Werner Sichel Economics Lecture-Seminar Series has been offered. The series was named this year in honor of Dr. Werner Sichel, chairperson of the Department of Economics, in recognition of his 40 years of service to WMU. Sichel started the series in 1963 and recent fund-raising efforts have established an endowment to defray the costs of bringing in speakers.

The Department of Economics and the College of Arts and Sciences co-sponsor the series with the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. Assisting Hoffman in directing the lecture series are Dr. Jean Kimmel, senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. For more information, persons should contact Hoffman by phone at (616) 387-5546 or by email to <hoffman@wmich.edu>; or Kimmel by phone at (616) 385-0435 or by email to <kimmel@we.upjohninst.org>. Persons also may call the Department of Economics at (616) 387-5535 for additional information.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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