Better Life Lab

Better Life Lab

Economists say the way we work has become so stressful it’s now the fifth leading cause of death. Our mission is to find a better way. Explore the art and science of living a full and healthy life with behavioral and social science researchers who can help us better understand what drives our human experiences, and how to change. Better Life Lab is a co-production from New America and Slate.

Episodes

December 12, 2020 25 min
In this year-end edition of Crisis Conversations, Brigid and members of the Better Life Lab team reflect on the memorable stories, voices, and lessons learned from COVID-19. And we consider a bold new agenda for work-family justice and gender equity in 2021 and beyond. Host: Brigid Schulte, Director, Better Life Lab at New America Guests: Vicki Shabo, Senior Fellow, Paid Leave Policy and Strategy at Better Life Lab Roselyn Miller...
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Is the pandemic is setting women back a generation? Without reliable childcare and schools, an unprecedented number of working mothers have been forced to reduce their hours. Or have had to leave the workforce entirely. As Elizabeth Gedmark, vice president of A Better Balance said recently: “It’s not a question of whether women are set back in the workplace. It’s a question of how far back we will go: 10 years, 15 years, 20 years?”...
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The United States is an outlier among developed nations when it comes to supporting working families. Unlike other advanced economies, we offer no national public paid family leave, no publicly supported universal childcare, no requirements that employers offer flexible work and schedule control. Researchers and advocates have long lamented we don’t have these policies because the constituents who need them most – parents – are too...
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What role will care and caregiving could play in the 2020 election. Pundits have long insisted that care issues like childcare, elder care and paid and unpaid caregiving are not “bread and butter” economic issues that move voters or swing elections. Will that change in this unprecedented time of COVID-19? Are voters beginning to see that care work is no longer just “women’s work,” but central to a functioning economy? And what diff...
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Kamala Harris just made history as the first woman of color nominated for national office by a major party. So why, after so much time and money have been spent on diversity initiatives, and on women’s leadership conferences and the like, are there still so few women — particularly women of color — in leadership positions in politics, in academia, and in American business? Join us as women leaders and thinkers share what needs t...
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August 22, 2020 27 min
After the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police sparked a racial justice reckoning, many American organizations put up Black Lives Matter signs. Many put out statements committing to tear down structural racism and build diverse, equitable and inclusive cultures at work. The trick is — how exactly do you do that? These business and organizational leaders have some ideas. Host: Brigid Schulte, Director, ...
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In the era of coronavirus, the notion of work-life balance can seem a dream for those who still have work. But the gut-it-out model is bad for workers, virtual and otherwise, and bad for employers. Host Brigid Schulte talks with behavioral science workers at ideas42 — a nonprofit that seeks to use behavioral science insights to improve lives and drive social change. We'll hear about efforts at ideas42 to research and re-design ...
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One American in five takes care of another family member or loved one. That's more than 53 million family caregivers in America. Members of this vast, largely invisible workforce were already under pressure prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Many were forced to choose between inflexible or unsupportive work environments, and caring for loved ones who need care. These caregivers are not supported by public policy – the emergency...
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Schools, summer camps and childcare centers are closed — and many may not reopen until next year. How are parents supposed to manage work, childcare and homeschooling? The childcare crisis is about to become even more acute, as many parents who lost their jobs due to the pandemic have already exhausted the temporary 12-week paid leave Congress passed in early spring. What will it take to build a truly high-quality, universal system...
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Pregnant workers already face discrimination on the job, Before the pandemic struck, the United States was the only advanced nation without a national paid maternity or parental leave policy. Now, pregnant workers have to navigate workplaces that pose real infection risks — often without recourse. Delivering a child in the pandemic has become fraught and isolating. And for many new moms whose low-wage jobs are considered "essen...
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July 18, 2020 28 min
Bruce Feiler, an eminent thinker on meaning, spirituality and contemporary life, shares what he’s learned about navigating life’s transitions with purpose and skill. His latest book is LIFE IS IN THE TRANSITIONS: Mastering Change at Any Age. Host: Brigid Schulte, Director, Better Life Lab at New America Guest: Bruce Feiler is the author of six consecutive New York Times bestsellers; the presenter of two prime-time series on PBS; a...
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On this edition of Crisis Conversations, we look at the arguments why the next Federal bailout package should focus on Black women and women of color. Before the pandemic, even with historically low unemployment, Black women and women of color were more likely to be clustered in undervalued jobs that don’t pay well. Now, even though they are likely to be key breadwinners for their families, women of color are disproportionately l...
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Telemedicine – virtual appointments with doctors and health professionals – has become the only way many people can get the care they need during the pandemic. But some see unexpected advantages to the telemedicine surge. Now more people can see a doctor without taking time off work. Or struggling to arrange childcare. Or finding a way to evade a controlling life partner. Is it possible that telemedicine could even help to close ...
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Before COVID-19 hit, women spent about twice as much time as men doing childcare and housework. That unequal gendered division of labor at home contributed to gender inequality in the workplace. — and to a persistent gender pay gap. But is the pandemic now changing that dynamic? And if so, will those changes last? Hosted by Brigid Schulte, Director, Better Life Lab at New America. Guests include: Dan Carlson, Assistant Professor of...
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As states lift shelter-in-place orders meant to slow the spread of coronavirus, some office-based firms are allowing remote work to continue. Some workplaces are staggering schedules, shutting off communal spaces, and limiting the number of people in an office — and in elevators. That's in contrast to the situation faced by many returning restaurant workers, hair stylists and other people who work “non-essential” jobs. These wo...
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Since May 25, tumultuous protests have engulfed the country — touched off by the murder of George Floyd, another black man who died at the hands of a white police officer. And as protests have transfixed the nation, data continues to show the coronavirus pandemic also is disproportionately affecting communities of color, On this essential episode of Crisis Conversations, host Brigid Schulte asks: What needs to change to end our cou...
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The United States stands virtually alone in the world in failing to guarantee paid maternity leave. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, Congress made history by quickly passing temporary emergency paid family leave – but severely limited who could get it. We’ll hear stories from the field about how the new law continues to create a gulf between the Haves and the Have Nots.  Host: Brigid Schulte, Director, Better Life Lab at New America G...
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The coronavirus pandemic has shown just how essential are the home health workers who care for our aging loved ones. Yet many of these care workers struggle with no benefits on the brink of poverty. Except in Washington state. We'll hear stories of how an innovative arrangement there could be a model for the rest of the country - now and after the pandemic. Host: Brigid Schulte, Director, Better Life Lab at New America Guests i...
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The United States is one of just 11 countries around the world that don’t guarantee workers paid time off to stay home if they’re sick – one of the surest ways to slow the spread of infection. Jody Heymann, director of the World Policy Analysis Center at UCLA shares insights from a new report on paid sick leave policies around the world. We’ll hear stories of the harrowing choices faced by essential workers in Texas — where paid si...
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It's tough to be a single parent in the best of times. Now the coronavirus pandemic has made it even harder. One in five children in the United States live with a single mother, and 4 percent live with a single father. And while the number of children living with an unmarried parent has more than doubled since 1968, most work and care systems are still set up to support two-parent families. How are single-parent families managi...
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