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Love and Economics: Why the Laissez-Faire Family Doesn't Work Hardcover – April 23, 2001

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Editorial Reviews


"A brilliant piece of intellectual exploration." -- Michael Novak

"A magnificent defense of marriage and family." -- First Things

"Economists, theologians, philosophers, and business people will do well to meditate deeply on her insights." -- Rev. Robert A. Sirico

"This book will reward all readers who care about economic theory and want to understand its limitations as well as its uses." -- Richard A. Epstein, James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law

"This important and persuasive book may itself be part of the solution." -- National Review

"You can read it in a day, but what it says may stay with you for a lifetime." -- Thomas Sowell, The Hoover Institution

From the Publisher

JENNIFER ROBACK MORSE taught economics for fifteen years at Yale and George Mason University before moving to California, where she combines her vocation as wife and home-schooling mother with writing and lecturing. A research fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford and the author of numerous articles in scholarly and popular journals, Dr. Morse contributes regular columns to Forbes magazine and the National Catholic Register.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Spence Publishing Company; 1st edition (April 23, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890626295
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890626297
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,187,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Morse is the president of the Ruth Institute, a non-profit organization committed to inspiring survivors of the Sexual Revolution. She is the author of "Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village," "101 Tips for a Happier Marriage," and "Smart Sex: Finding Life-long Love in a Hook-up World," as well as numerous pamphlets and tracts, including "The Government's Duty to Marriage" and "The Socialist Attack on the Family."

Dr. Morse earned her Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Rochester in 1980. She taught economics at Yale University and George Mason University. She has served as a Research Fellow for the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty and has held fellowships at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, Cornell Law School, and the University of Chicago's economics department. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Reason, Policy Review, National Review Online, the Journal of Political Economy, the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, the University of Chicago Law Review and she has been a guest on Fox News, CNN and EWTN.

A noted international speaker, she has been featured at the World Meeting of Families in Valencia, Spain in 2006 (sponsored by the Pontifical Council on the Family) and the Love Singapore Momentum Conference in 2014.

Dr. Morse was named one of the "Catholic Stars of 2013" by Our Sunday Visitor - a list that includes Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI.

Dr. Morse and her husband are parents of an adopted child, a birth child, eight foster children and now a goddaughter.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Bill Muehlenberg VINE VOICE on November 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
What does the free-market have to do with the family? What does libertarianism have to do with community? What does the minimal state have to do with social order? Indeed, what does love have to do with economics? Good questions indeed.
Those opposed to libertarian principles will of course answer these questions differently from those in favour. But Jennifer Roback Morse offers an interesting third proposal. She notes that attacks on the family have not just come from welfare statism on the left. It has also come from radical individualism on the right. Interestingly, while she is a political and economic libertarian, she is aware of the shortcomings of moral and social libertarianism.
Thus she is far from hostile to libertarianism. She is, in fact, a free-market economist. But she is not blind to the short-comings of laissez-faire social policy. Indeed, she believes it to be unworkable. Says Dr Morse, "We cannot afford to take a completely laissez-faire attitude toward the family and the issues that surround it."
So how does a libertarian defend marriage and family? Well, that is what this book is all about. She attempts to show that a genuine libertarianism must be one stripped of its "bankrupt materialism" and must be open in fact to the supernatural. That is, a secular, atheistic society does not contain within itself the ability to long sustain a free people. A free society requires three legs to stand on, as Michael Novak long ago pointed out. It needs economic liberty, political liberty, and moral-cultural liberty. The last, which includes the importance of religion, has too often been ignored in this discussion.
A minimalist state is one that depends on a substantial component of its citizenry exercising self-control and self-constraint.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Few books actually break new ground, but this book is one of them. By adopting a Romanian orphan and then having a biological child, Morse came to realize that one of the key concepts of economics, upon which the discipline is based, is defective. "Economic man," egotistical and preference-maximizing, seemed remarkably like her Romanian son, neglected in a primitive orphanage and now unable to bond normally with his loving family. This insight from real life led Morse to some remarkable thoughts about the family and its role in producing people capable of living and prospering in a free society. This is a very readable and intriguing book. It made me think a lot about individualism, families, and what makes a free society tick.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Peter Lewin on July 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it without reservation to anyone who has an interest in family issues, whatever their point of view. My enjoyment was no doubt enhanced by the fact that I am basically in sympathy with Roback-Morse's point of view. I share both her concerns and her basic political values as a libertarian. I thus found her articulating many of my concerns, often more eloquently than I have done, and found her analysis, for the most part, satisfying. I am sure that she and I are in the minority, but this should not detract from the book's appeal. (My praise should not be interpreted to mean complete agreement with everything that Roback-Morse says and I will indicate some areas of disagreement below.)
It is articulate and avoids being shrill about very controversial matters. It is a voice of old fashioned sanity in a world of rapid, often frightening, change. It is likely to offend many in different places on the political spectrum, but it offers a point of view that is reasoned, often subtle (more than appears at first glance) and worth considering carefully. It is written as a popular text, but it has a lot to offer the scholar as well.
The subtitle "Why the Laissez Faire Family Doesn't Work" is a little misleading, perhaps overly provocative. The truth is Roback-Morse is not attacking laissez faire libertarianism, though her presentation often suggests that she is. This is because of her concern with the place that the family occupies in modern socio-political discussions. There is an irony.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robert H. Nelson on March 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Since the 1970s, the Chicago school of economics has applied the standard economic assumption of self interest outside the ordinary workings of the commercial marketplace. The public choice school of economics analyses the workings of a government system where politicians, administrators and indeed everyone involved in the system is motivated by personal gain. Criminal behavior is one more career choice. Children are conceived as consumption items for the benefit of the parents.
This way of thinking - which has now spread to many economists well outside Chicago -- provoked strong objections from the beginning. Among other problems, the critics argued that such an economic approach failed to take account of trust, loyalty and moral conviction in human affairs.
Chicago and other economists, however, dismissed these critics as simple minded moralists who were opposed to the advance of "economic science." They cannot make that claim, however, with respect to a new critic, Jennifer Roback Morse. Morse is a well respected member of the economics profession who nevertheless thinks that there is much more to the world than self interest.
In the commercial market place, as Morse describes herself, she remains a libertarian in her convictions. Within the family, however, Morse has concluded that the pursuit of self interest alone would mean the end of the family as we have known it. The experience of being a mother with two children (one adopted) taught Morse lessons more powerful than any she had learned in her education as an economic professional. As a devout Catholic, she also found that her own religious convictions could not easily be squared in the domain of the family with the standard economic ways of thought.
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