Nancy Folbre focuses on questions that most economists never think about: how and why people form overlapping groups that influence and limit what they want, how they may behave, and what they get. She has sharp and plausible things to say about group solidarity and group conflict and how they have affected the workings of economic institutions. Anyone would be a better economist, or just a clearer thinker, after reading this book.' - Robert M. Solow, Professor of Economics, MIT and Nobel Laureate in Economics Who Pays for the Kids? is the short version of the longer question: How are the costs of caring for ourselves,, our children, and other dependents are distributed among the members of society? These costs are largely paid by women, both inside and outside the money economy. They also seem to be increasing, due to the expansion of wage employment, the increased importance of education, and improved health technologies. Despite the social programmes of the welfare state, parents with young children, especially mothers on their own, are increasingly susceptible to poverty.
How can we explain the distribution of the costs of caring' between men and women, parents and children, parents and non-parents? Traditional neoclassical economics answers this question by emphasizing personal choice. Traditional Marxian economics answers it by emphasizing class interest. Traditional feminist theory answers it by emphasizing gender interests. Arguing that all these answers are incomplete, this book offers an alternative analysis of individual choices within interlocking structures of constraint based on gender, age, sex, nation, race and class. A comparative history of this interaction in Northwestern Europe, the United States and the Caribbean helps explain differences in political movements, state policies, and social welfare. Written in a fresh and energetic style by a well known feminist economist, Who Pays for the Kids? is an excellent text for upper level courses in women's studies and the social sciences. A wider public will appreciate its relevance to current policy debates over spending, old age insurance and child support enforcement.