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Tag Archives: Family Economics

The Invisible Order of the Black Family: Some Observations on Carol Stack’s All Our Kin

Part I: The Household, The Family, and the State Carol Stack’s All Our Kin is a classic ethnography from the early 1970s. The context for the book was the Moynihan Report on the state of the Black family produced by the U.S. government in 1965. The report’s conclusion was that the Black family was dysfunctional and in disarray. Stack and others explored the validity of that conclusion and examined the question of whether the official data used in the report had...

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Romney’s child allowance proposal

Mitt Romney has proposed a child allowance of $4200/year for children under age 6 and $3000/year for children age 6 to 17, which is gradually phased out for people making over $200,000 (depending on the child’s age.) It is to be paid for without boosting the budget deficit, by reducing certain other poverty programs and also eliminating certain tax deductions, such as what’s left of the SALT deduction. (This last element is one of my favorite parts of the plan.) I...

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Caitlin Doughty on Death

What do you say when someone dies? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really learned how to talk about death. How to think about it. What to say to someone who’s recently bereaved? Just think about the language we do use. “Passed on.” “In a better place.” “Laid to eternal rest.” How about just “died”? The discomfort runs deep. Money doesn’t lie. And our aversion to death, especially in the United States, is big business. We pay for the body to be transported,...

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Are Kids Worth It?

Family life has long frustrated economists who struggle to measure the various utility functions involved in spending 18 or more years of one’s life changing diapers, listening to screaming fights, spending money on food and daycare and diapers and summer camps, and cleaning up vomit on road trips. A new paper by Ariel Karlinsky and Michael Sarel published in the Israel Economic Review helps clarify the picture of how much kids cost in immediate monetary terms,...

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Unschooling + Math

One popular variant on homeschooling is called “unschooling.”  The practice varies, as practices always do.  The essence, however, is that the student does what he wants.  He studies what he wants.  He studies for as long as he wants.  If he asks you to teach him something, you teach him.  Yet if he decides to play videogames all day, the principled unschooling response is: “Let him.” Almost every parent is horrified by the idea of unschooling.  Even most...

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Who Owns Your Genes?

Doctor He Jiankui was sentenced to a three year prison term, fined $430,000, and fired from his academic position as Associate Professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China. Did he engage in groping a patient? No. Poisoning a client? Again, no. According to the official Chinese Xinhua News Agency, Dr. He and two others, Zhang Renli and Qin Jinzhou, were convicted of gene editing fetuses. His clients were a healthy mother and a...

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The Decriminalization of Polygamy

Utah’s anti-polygamy laws came under fire on December 2013, by US Federal Judge Clark Waddoups. He ruled in Brown v. Buhman that this state’s ban on polygamy was unconstitutional. This year, Utah state Senator Deirdre Henderson sponsored a measure that would decriminalize this practice but not legalize it. The Utah state Senate approved this bill unanimously. If signed into law, plural marriage would be punished with fines of up to $750 and community service, but...

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Comments on Siegel’s Fewer, Richer, Greener

Last week, I was part of the Cato Institute’s book forum on Laurence Siegel’s Fewer, Richer, Greener: Prospects for Humanity in an Age of Abundance.  Here’s my commentary on the book. 1. Vast areas of agreement: a. Until March, the world was getting richer at a marvelous pace. Absolute poverty has been disappearing before our eyes after ten thousand years of apparent permanence. b. Conventional measures sharply understated the glorious reality, because the environment...

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Sweden’s Keyhole Solution

As I explain in Open Borders, a responsible advocate of government intervention always asks, “Is there any cheaper and more humane approach?”  “Government should do something” is perfectly consistent with “Scrupulously avoid collateral damage.”  Following Tim Harford, I call such responsible approaches “keyhole solutions.”  This recent AIER piece from James Cooper (via Dan Klein) provides a fine example: I am an American living in Stockholm. I have been living here...

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Good Housekeeping: Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Vol 3

A three-part #ReadWithMe series. Read Part 1 and Part 2. I was brought up to believe that we shouldn’t put too much weight on the kinds of cars people drive, the clothes that they wear, and the houses that they own. It is the character of the person that matters, not the external trappings. This means that for a long time, there was a moment at the end of Pride and Prejudice that was very difficult for me. It comes just a few pages from the end of the novel, in...

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