[First of all, please take a look at the Databases page, which I will be updating as I find more data and tools for data analysis.]
One of the issues that I commonly face while teaching introduction to sociology is that I have to battle the fact that undergraduate students know very little about public policy in general and how powerful it can be to generate powerful outcomes for large numbers in affected populations, sometimes for better, and sometimes for worse.
Let’s get started:
First note the overall North / South divide. But also note that the red countries are not the poorest ones. Some poorer countries offer greater benefits than the US. But that is for mothers, what about fathers?
Now, what could explain the discrepancies? This might be a good opportunity to discuss gender roles and how they are enforced / supported / challenged through public policy. One can see right away that there is much more red on this map, that is, far fewer countries offer paternal leaves. However, there is a bit of overlap: blue areas in the first map match blue areas in the second one.
There is also a good opportunity to discuss how one should read a map. As much as one’s reading is guided by the colors, one should pay attention to the legend as well, otherwise, a careless reading might lead one to think that Australia offers longer paternal leaves than maternal leaves… well, no. The legend is different between the maps: blue in the first one means 26 weeks or more, where it means 14 weeks or more in the second one. So, comparisons should not be based just by a skimming of the colors: only red means the same in both maps.
This one is interesting because, good luck finding a pattern. And Maude knows we sociologists love patterns because nothing says social structure like a good pattern of behavior or policies and outcomes. For instance, look at the Americas and you find countries for each type of regulation (or lack thereof). So what do we do in a case like this? After all, the first map was relatively easy to analyze. Well, first of all, it is a good opportunity to recognize that Western countries do not have a monopoly on children- and family-friendly policies and that the US tends to do pretty badly on those compared to countries at the same economic level but it is not the only one (Australia). On the other hand, other less wealthy countries have strict standards (check out the grey countries). But overall, what this tells us is “dig deeper”.
But it is all well and good to have a paid leave, but how paid is it really to be effective and allowing parents to not have to work during the leave time? The Guardian does not have that information but you can find it at the original site.
So, for mothers:
Note that the values are maximum values, not necessarily what people are receiving but it is still amazing to see most of the world in the dark green category although one wonders how many women in the poorest countries, especially those who live in rural areas, actually receive any benefit at all considering we are talking wage replacement.
What about fathers? We already know they are less likely to get a leave in the first place:
No surprises here.
What is missing here, though, is the impact these policies might have (or not) on other social indicators. If we assume that these policies should generate positive outcomes for children, we would need to correlate them with other variables, such as infant mortality, educational achievements, life expectancy, etc. One would also need to know the effectiveness in implementing these policies and have benefits distributed across the population especially on countries in the Global South.
So, as much as I like visualizations, these are a bit short on content. They are a starting point and raise a lot of interesting issues and questions but provide few answers.