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Farewell to the Family?

In response to:

Farewell to the Family? from the March 18, 1982 issue

To the Editors:

Andrew Hacker’s review of family life in America is so thoughtful and cogent that I’m surprised to find a couple of whopping non sequiturs in it.

He notes that “among couples with one or more children under eighteen, 60.0 percent of the wives put in some work during the year…”(1979). Unaccountably, he reasons that the work “could not have been very extensive since their median income came only to $5,368.” To suggest that a wife with a pre-school child (47 percent of all mothers of pre-school children work) who puts in, say, a 30 hour week, fifty weeks a year at minimum wage is just dabbling at work is to miss the point entirely. The fact is that most women are very poorly paid. Hacker compounds the error when he says: “While more married women are certainly working it does not appear that the jobs they tend to hold are a large part of their lives.” The jobs that women tend to get and hold are a large part of their lives, all right. It’s the pay that is not very large.

Vivian Cadden

Working Mother magazine, New York City

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