This book explores the growing tension between the requirements of employers for a flexible work force and the ability of parents and communities to nurture their children and provide for their health, welfare, and education. Global competition and the spread of information technology are forcing businesses to engage in rapid, worldwide production changes, customized marketing, and just-in-time delivery. They are reorganizing work around decentralized management, work differentiation, and short-term and part-time employment. Increasingly, workers must be able to move across firms and even across types of work, as jobs get redefined.
But there is a stiff price being paid for this labor market flexibility. It separates workers from the social institutions—family, long-term jobs, and stable communities—that sustained economic expansions in the past and supported the growth and development of the next generation. This is exacerbated by the continuing movement of women into paid work, which puts a greater strain on the family’s ability to care for and rear children. Unless government fosters the development of new, integrative institutions to support the new world of work, the author argues, the conditions required for long-term economic growth and social stability will be threatened. He concludes by laying out a framework for creating such institutions.