Economics, my old love. Sometimes I wish I was Gary Becker, but I'm sure we all do, at some point or another. Right?
Our Bodies, Our Blog sends us to an article on the value of a working mother. Not the dollar value, but out societal value (which, we should note, are theoretically the same thing in a capitalist market-based economy). Why, the article asks, are Americans so conflicted about working mothers?
We talk a fair amount about the off-ramp, and opting out, but those are financially detrimental decisions. And since most marriages don't work out, these choices leave women with little money, few marketable job skills and bad credit.
As anyone with a basic understanding of economic theory can tell you, the opportunity cost of children rises as women become more educated. This one of the approaches to stemming fertility (and poverty) among the poor in developing countries, not to mention that education decreases infant mortality. In many developed countries this economic reality has created a potential social and financial crisis, in that there is a population decline. The BBC covered this issue (as did this blog) a little over a year ago.
The Economist argues that the government needs to plan societal benefits (as is retirement ages) in order to address this obvious social trend. Others might argue that the state should step in and try to encourage people to have children. And so the role of government in relation to our economic and reproductive choices takes center stage on a fairly macro scale. I'm not talking about your ability to walk into a clinic here, I'm talking about large, societal policies that may encourage or discourage people from having children, and affect the timing thereof. And this I find fascinating.