Shomron Center for Economic Policy Research

In Search for an efficient Institutions

Does Government Crowds Out the Family?


Here is the updated version of the report, presenting current state of our studies in political economy of the Family institution crisis. The family was targeted (actually, picked for destruction) by totalitarian intellectuals since Plato. Acute need to destroy it was declared in the Communist manifesto 1848 (as the Family and the Private Property institutions are strengthening each other). Modern politicians standing with Big Government and civilian bureaucrats are permanently in search of new opportunities to extend the budgets and discretionary powers. So our principal hypothesis looks quite reasonable, almost “natural”.

Government interventions into the traditional functioning of the family became an important factor in the recent family crisis in developed countries (fewer marriages, more divorces, and lower birth rate). This hypothesis has been tested statistically for the period from 1800 to 2010 with data from 17 established democracies.

We show that mandatory pension insurance might contribute to the reduction in fertility, with a lag of 40 years. Legislation encouraging a high level of female employment and mandating no-fault divorce rules is tested as an additional factor contributing to the divorce rate hike and birth rate fall. In addition, the concept of “the best interests of the child” encourages children to challenge parents’ authority; the latter reduces “demand” for children (and birthrate) even further.

The reason behind this effect is the rise of the welfare state, crowding out male and parental responsibilities.

The paper was originally presented at the Public Choice annual conference (New Orleans, 2012 “The gender role of the government: some explanations of family crisis”).

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