More universities should provide paid family leave for graduate students and faculty members. Only one-third of PhD-granting institutions provide any sort of daycare for graduate students and most have no childbirth policy.We're richer than we've ever been. We now have hourly productivity levels which would allow us to work less, at least for those critical years, the technology to facilitate flexible working, and the resources to build the infrastructure we need to make raising children really compatible with work. Yet basic things like good, onsite daycare remain a rare perk rather than the standard provision they could be. What is missing is the political and social climate to make it happen. Perhaps the very fact that we use phrases likes "child-friendly" says it all - when was the last time you heard of a "life-friendly" organization?
Part of the problem is that policies of this kind tend to be seen as leftist and uneconomic. But even if you discount all the non-monetary gains that would flow from a "family-friendly" re-thinking of how we work, the economic benefits are undeniable. Accounting for costs and benefits over a lifetime, there's surely no greater economic good than a well-raised child. Or, as Churchill famously put it: "There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies."