The United States may be one of the world’s wealthiest countries, but it ranks last on one critical metric: it is the only wealthy country without a national paid parental leave policy. Even though the Pew Research Center stated in 2015 that nearly half of all two-parent families have both parents working full-time, only 21% of US workers have access to paid family leave through their employers.

This lack of provision contrasts sharply with European countries, where paid parental leave is the norm. Paid parental leave, according to research, provides indisputable benefits for parents, children, and the societies of nations that give it. In the United States, there is widespread support for it; according to academic research published in April, roughly 82 percent of Americans support paid parental leave. This figure has been very constant over the years and includes support from all major parties. The reasons for the United States’ continued outlier status on paid parental leave are multifaceted, mixing post-World War II requirements with a complex national cultural identity of individualism and self-determination.

However, there is now a strong drive for change. President Joe Biden of the United States proposed a $225 billion (£163 billion) package of paid family and medical leave benefits in April, allowing workers to take up to 12 weeks off to care for a newborn or family member. Paid parental leave is a rare topic that Americans of all stripes can support in a country that feels more polarized than ever. So, why hasn’t anything been done at the federal level yet – and with Biden’s idea on its way to Congress, may it finally happen this time?