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Valuing Children: Rethinking the Economics of the Family (The Family and Public Policy) Paperback – April 14, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0674047273 ISBN-10: 0674047273

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Product Details

  • Series: The Family and Public Policy (Book 5)
  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (March 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674047273
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674047273
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,332,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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. (Sheila Kamerman, Columbia University School of Social Work)

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. (Samuel Preston, University of Pennsylvania)

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 Choice 2008-07-01)

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 Women's Review of Books)

About the Author

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

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hubert Shea on October 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Professor Folbre maintains that economists and policy strategists should view child rearing as an investment in human capital instead of consumption goods. Unlike pets and livestock, child rearing will strongly affect economic development in various aspects.

To her, child rearing is a transfer of intergenerational income flows that "represents a cost to parents" (P.48). The whole investment process is also constrained and coordinated by contractual arrangements that channel the circular flows of resources between parents and children, parents and non-parents, family and non-family. The flow of resources involves market income and non-market work but the current national income accounting fails to measure the amount of time devoted to child rearing that can be very costly to parents (P.97) because they have to allocate time to care for their children that can reduce their time they devote to market income (P.185).

This book is an excellent analysis of child rearing economics. Mainstream economists view child rearing as a process of consumption in which parents can derive happiness. Professor Folbre develops a new thinking about child rearing economics and rather than viewing child rearing as outputs of resources, she maintains that child rearing represents indispensable inputs into the national economy. Policy strategists in the government are encouraged to undertake an intensive review of family policy packages that can align private and public resources in promoting efficient commitments to the next generation.

This book is highly recommended to readers who are interested in microeconomics and social policy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Matt Mitterko on September 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nancy Folbre's new book is an excellent one, which showcases the shortcomings of the standard neoclassical economist's tools for creating policy surrounding the family, as well as what contemporary work is being pursued in order to remedy this (e.g. the recent development of time-use survey data in the US for calculating family work). One of her main contributions, which foreshadows latter sections of the book, is a review and revision of the standard circular flow of resources between consumers, producers and the government.

She highlights new ways to construct a better account of the economic value of raising children throughout the book: how to more accurately determine the value of resources spent on children, both public and private; how current models of calculating the amount of family time spent on children are inaccurate; how care for children, as part of the non-market sector, is economically undervalued by simply utilizing its replacement cost; and how public policy surrounding parenthood, children's education, and health is inconsistent, in that it does not systematically support children as dependent members of society, and additionally as future taxpayers who will support other members of society.

This book also includes extensive footnotes of the contemporary literature surrounding this topic. It would be useful for anyone interested in economics, public policy, or philosophy that bears on the politics of raising children, and ways of constructing policy to appropriately account for its costs.
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By H. Schutzer on November 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
The book is very well written. The only flaw is that it spends too much time on children. The economic philosophy though is fairly good.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kaitlyn on December 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
had to get this book for a class i was in. don't read it if you intend to stay awake. far to clinical for me.
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Valuing Children: Rethinking the Economics of the Family (The Family and Public Policy)
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