From Publishers Weekly
The data is in: at least one parent in every couple should make an 18-year commitment to put the needs of the child firsta "No Exit" parenting covenant. Less obviously, Alstott, a Professor of Law at Yale and co-author of The Stakeholder, contends that because all of society benefits from the loving care that mothers and fathers provide (in the form of lower crime rates and a stronger workforce), all the members of society (including the childless) have an obligation to assist parents with the intensive labor of child rearing. Two recommendations emerge from this densely argued study: a $5,000 yearly grant to anyone caring for a child under the age of 13 that must be used for child care, education or retirement savings, and an insurance program designed for the parents of ill or disabled children. Throughout the text, Alstott defends her ideas against the anticipated arguments of libertarians, but feminists may also be displeased with her opposition to family friendly workplaces. (Alstott theorizes that employers will shift the cost of paid leave or flex time to employees and this will lead to lower wages for women.) While its nice to have proof that Americans would benefit from such socially progressive programs, few parents or nonparents will need convincing that childrens needs ought to come first. And despite the data, many strapped parents will wonder how much help $5,000 would really provide, though others may rejoin that five grand is a whole lot better than nothing.
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"Novel and thought provoking...Alstott [argues] that society should share in the costs of raising children because... of mutual obligation between caretakers and society: caretakers have an obligation to provide continuous care [for their children, a requirement] imposed, in part, by the state; the state thus has an obligation to care for caretakers' lost opportunities. Her argument is well supported and thoughtful... No Exit
should open up a useful dialogue."--Perspectives on Politics
"Is having children just another peculiar taste, like hang-gliding or world travel? Anne Alstott's important new book explains why not. Alstott brings much-needed clarity to the debate over what society owes to parents. Her policy analysis and proposals will be controversial, but no one involved in the care work debate should skip this book."--Joan Williams, author of Unbending Gender
and Director of the Program on WorkLife Law, American University
"Anne Alstott provides a thought-provoking and innovative response to one of the enduring questions for a liberal society: How to reconcile a commitment to individual autonomy with the urgent need to require that our children be nourished and cared for? Alstott persuasively describes and defends a "no exit rule" for caretakers, but then argues that the government has a corresponding responsibility to provide opportunities for parents and other caretakers. She details a public system of caretaker resource accounts and life-planning insurance designed to ensure that caretakers retain meaningful life opportunities despite their sacrifices. This book will spark spirited discussion throughout the academy, as well as among policymakers who will find in No Exit
a concrete reform agenda."--Elizabeth Garrett, Professor of Law, University of Southern California
"Alstott succeeds in making an extremely compelling case: public policy can do a much better job rewarding and supporting modern day mothers and fathers who provide indispensable care for children. A powerful and timely book."--Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of Creating A Life