Valuing Children: Rethinking the Economics of the Family / Edition 1

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Overview

Nancy Folbre challenges the standard economist's assumption that parents have children for the same reason that they acquire pets-primarily for the pleasure of their company. Children become the workers and taxpayers of the next generation, and investments in them offer a significant payback to other participants in the economy.

Nancy Folbre is Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
In this capstone work, Folbre, long a critic of the neoclassical economics approach to the family, adumbrates arguments regarding what is wrong with how economists and governments conceptualize and measure the workings of the family, using children as her fulcrum. Children reside at the intersection of family and the state, the marketplace, and the past and future. Benefit-cost accounting of children is woefully inadequate, and society lacks consensus regarding who actually bears costs; what impacts private and public expenditures have on child outcomes; what optimal expenditures might be; and what cost-benefit apportionment rubric stakeholders should employ. Folbre systematically addresses questions surrounding the value of children. Although some answers will not surprise, her unpacking of time, goods, and federal and state program costs and benefits both informs and provokes new thinking. The critical question is, who should pay for kids? The payees and benefit claimants are parents, earlier and subsequent familial generations, children themselves, and society via its government. What should hold these disparate groups together, Folbre implores, is the notion of moral obligation. Would that her vision becomes reality.
— D. J. Conger
Women's Review of Books
Folbre...shows why universal childcare should be the ultimate feminist issue. By focusing on the numbers in a new way, Folbre's Valuing Children has the most potential for reframing the debate. She may have the cool eye of an economist, but she strips the need to care for all children of its cultural baggage.
— Martha Nichols
Choice

In this capstone work, Folbre, long a critic of the neoclassical economics approach to the family, adumbrates arguments regarding what is wrong with how economists and governments conceptualize and measure the workings of the family, using children as her fulcrum. Children reside at the intersection of family and the state, the marketplace, and the past and future. Benefit-cost accounting of children is woefully inadequate, and society lacks consensus regarding who actually bears costs; what impacts private and public expenditures have on child outcomes; what optimal expenditures might be; and what cost-benefit apportionment rubric stakeholders should employ. Folbre systematically addresses questions surrounding the value of children. Although some answers will not surprise, her unpacking of time, goods, and federal and state program costs and benefits both informs and provokes new thinking. The critical question is, who should pay for kids? The payees and benefit claimants are parents, earlier and subsequent familial generations, children themselves, and society via its government. What should hold these disparate groups together, Folbre implores, is the notion of moral obligation. Would that her vision becomes reality.
— D. J. Conger

Women's Review of Books

Folbre...shows why universal childcare should be the ultimate feminist issue. By focusing on the numbers in a new way, Folbre's Valuing Children has the most potential for reframing the debate. She may have the cool eye of an economist, but she strips the need to care for all children of its cultural baggage.
— Martha Nichols

Sheila Kamerman
An excellent analysis of economics and family policy. Folbre develops a new way of thinking about the economics of child rearing, that of treating children as an investment rather than a consumption good. Although Folbre characterizes her approach as institutional economics, she has really added to a wide variety of economic fields beyond that.
Samuel Preston
This book will become a standard reference work on many of the issues dealing with parenting and the production of valued goods and services. It is encyclopedic in its coverage and exceptionally well referenced.
Choice - D. J. Conger
In this capstone work, Folbre, long a critic of the neoclassical economics approach to the family, adumbrates arguments regarding what is wrong with how economists and governments conceptualize and measure the workings of the family, using children as her fulcrum. Children reside at the intersection of family and the state, the marketplace, and the past and future. Benefit-cost accounting of children is woefully inadequate, and society lacks consensus regarding who actually bears costs; what impacts private and public expenditures have on child outcomes; what optimal expenditures might be; and what cost-benefit apportionment rubric stakeholders should employ. Folbre systematically addresses questions surrounding the value of children. Although some answers will not surprise, her unpacking of time, goods, and federal and state program costs and benefits both informs and provokes new thinking. The critical question is, who should pay for kids? The payees and benefit claimants are parents, earlier and subsequent familial generations, children themselves, and society via its government. What should hold these disparate groups together, Folbre implores, is the notion of moral obligation. Would that her vision becomes reality.
Women's Review of Books - Martha Nichols
Folbre...shows why universal childcare should be the ultimate feminist issue. By focusing on the numbers in a new way, Folbre's Valuing Children has the most potential for reframing the debate. She may have the cool eye of an economist, but she strips the need to care for all children of its cultural baggage.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674026322
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/2008
  • Series: Family and Public Policy Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Folbre is Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

I Conceptualizing the Costs of Children

1 Children and the Economy 11

2 Commitments and Capabilities 27

II Private Spending on Children in the United States

3 Defining the Costs of Children 45

4 Children and Family Budgets with Tamara Ohler 65

5 Children outside the Household 79

6 Accounting for Family Time with Jayoung Yoon 96

7 Valuing Family Work 121

III Public Spending on Children in the United States

8 Subsidizing Parents 139

9 Public Spending on Children's Education and Health 160

10 Who Should Pay for the Kids? 178

Notes 193

Index 231

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