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This map shows how appalling U.S. paid leave is, compared to the entire world

Ooph, this is bad.

This map shows how appalling U.S. paid leave is, compared to the entire world
[Photo: Cheyenne Copfer/EyeEm/Getty Images]

When a new mother has a child in Canada, she gets 35 weeks off. When a mother has a child in Algeria, she gets 14 weeks off. When a mother has a child in Venezuela, she gets 20 weeks off—oh, plus six weeks off before having the baby.

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When a mother has a child in America? She gets nothing.

Read the full story and explore the series of infographics here. [Screenshot: The New York Times]
This is the stark reality of being a parent in the United States, where we’re one of only six countries in the entire world without any national paid leave for childbirth or illness. 185 countries around the world offer paid leave to new mothers, and 174 countries offer paid leave for health issues. The U.S. does neither.

It’s a gross inequity that’s brought to life in a new series of graphics by the New York Times. The team has taken a simple global map and painted the countries that offer government-sponsored leave to mothers, fathers, and people who are sick.

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The topic is in the news again due to President Biden’s $3.5 trillion domestic policy plan, which originally included a new policy of 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. Due to political infighting, it appears paid leave has been pulled out of the plan altogether.

But as you can see clearly in these images, the U.S. is an absolute outlier when it comes to maternal leave. Every country in blue on the map offers some form of maternal leave. Only the orange countries do not.

Read the full story and explore the series of infographics here. [Screenshot: The New York Times]
Paternal leave is a slightly different story. Here, the U.S. is one of 84 countries without some form of leave for new fathers. Most of South America, Africa, and Asia do not offer paternal leave. It’s proof that fathers are treated as second-class parents by much of the world’s governments, which only places more burden on women to balance a career and family—feeding the gender pay gap. Such gendered constructs of parenting are clearly dated to begin with, and they are causing ongoing harm. For instance, same-sex male couples are often denied parental leave at work—even unpaid leave—for new children.

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Time will tell how the politics of the moment shake out. One thing, however, is for certain: America may be considered a rich nation, but when it comes to leave benefits, we live in poverty.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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