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Eureka: The economics of marriage and children
by Jay Gutman
2016-12-21 12:22:26
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economics01_400Why is marriage becoming more and more complicated? Why would young men and women rather stay single. Why does an increasing number of couples decide to have children late, if at all? Below is a chart explaining different economic models and their consequences for marriage and children.

1st model: the agrarian model

Housing and utilities: mostly free

Clothing: mostly free

Food: mostly free or cheap

Entertainment: virtually nonexistent

Cost of marriage and children: basically cheap

Transportation: walking, so mostly free

Education: free, if available

In the agrarian kin-based society model having children does not raise the cost of living significantly, so people marry young and have several children.

2nd model: the industrial society model

Housing and utilities: cheap

Clothing: cheap, mostly rags

Food: cheap

Education: cheap

Entertainment: cheap

Transportation: either public transportation or walking, cars are a luxury

In this model, you have either subsidized housing or new housing units that you can inhabit, buy cheap clothes at the market, food is cheap and so are entertainment and transportation. So marriage is a cheap deal, provided you can find housing and provided your extended family doesn’t move in with you.

3rd model: service-sector based economies

Housing and utilities: expensive

Clothing: expensive

Food: expensive

Education: expensive

Entertainment: expensive

Transportation: expensive

 In this model, marriage becomes an expensive transaction. You have to get a mortgage to buy a house, food and clothing are expensive, sending your children to school is expensive, and you need two cars to juggle you and your spouses schedule. So you naturally argue with your spouse about issues related to marriage.

How can a country fix the low birthrate within its borders? Basically by encouraging its agricultural and industrial sectors to thrive. People in agrarian villages and in industrial zones naturally have more children, whereas in service sector-based economies people tend to be too busy between work and juggling budgets to maintain an expensive lifestyle. So if you want more children, you probably want to protect your agricultural and industrial zones.


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Emanuel Paparella2016-12-22 12:18:45
The customary other side of the coin follows:
Having been presented once again with one side of the coin (the pragmatic, economic, positivist side) on the subject of marriage this time around, allow me please to propose the missing other side (the humanistic). The former deals with marriage as a pragmatic transaction and children accompanying it as an economic commodity of sort to be measured and quantified; the latter looks at it as a communal act and covenant (reflecting the one between God and his people) sealed by vows and witnessed by a community, with children as a future potential blessing.
The two links below from past pieces in the Ovi pages on this very subject, will render the idea for those who may be curious about what that other side might look like; for, I am afraid that without examining the other side of the positivist coin the picture we are customarily served in the Eureka column, the whole will remain forever incomplete. This clarification process leading to a holistic approach, by the way, is very much in the ancient Greek tradition of the dialogue or symposium which some, those of a sophistic empiricist mind-set, misguidedly resented in Socrates and saw as the sting of a “gadfly” challenging taken-for-granted false assumptions; we know full well where that slightly biased attitude landed Socrates.

Emanuel Paparella2016-12-22 12:19:23
Today some logical positivists might misguidedly confuse such a clarification process with trolling or worse, with twitting, and then misguidedly trace them back to Socrates as their originator, but if truth be told, that is a wholly different issue. To the contrary, that courageous challenging of taken for granted assumptions within a serious reflective philosophical discourse represents a signal service of the father of philosophy to those sincerely searching for the truth and the essence of things. It still serves us quite well.
http://www.ovimagazine.com/art/5361 (2010)
http://www.ovimagazine.com/art/9894 (2013)

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