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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Quote from A Treatise on the Family by Gary S. Becker

"Consequently, kinship is less important in modern than traditional societies because market insurance is used instead of kin insurance, market schools instead of family schools, and examinations and contracts instead of family certification. Not only are kin less concerned about monitoring and controlling members, they are also less able to do so because members scatter to find their best opportunities. Since kinship is less important in modern societies, elder members and ancestors receive less respect and attention; they are less likely to be defended against criticism by others. . . ." [p. 348]
MY COMMENT
It seems that, at least in the US, it is public schools that dominate education and that the federal government's social security system plays a very large role in insurance programs for the elderly. In so far as this is the case, they do crowd out family functions.

In fact Becker himself gives a nice example of this:
". . . the Chinese government in recent years has encouraged rural collectives to establish social security programs, apparently for the purpose of reducing fertility." [p. 172, f.n. 14]
In contrast, privately funded schools and retirement plans need not necessarily reduce the role of kin, since relatives can financially contribute to such programs.

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