Thursday, June 21, 2007

You Mean Economic Growth is NOT a Family Value?

Chris Dillow, at S&M (sorry) posts an interesting thought: economic growth can lead to loosening of family ties. He notes five mechanisms, and links some interesting and on-point research.

A summary (and perhaps an inept one; ATSRTWT!)
1. Dishwasher effect: more technically feasible for people to live alone, outsourcing kitchen jobs to machines
2. Tools, leverage, and capital: The premium on physical strength has diminished, so comparative advantage of men for lots of jobs has shrunk, or disappeared.
3. Creative destruction: more growth, more frictional job loss, more divorces.
4. Social moblity/migration: may be harder to "meet someone," and marriages lack the support structure of nearby families if children or finances strain the union.
5. Aspirations: disparities in income are larger if growth is strong, and women (in particular) can see the consequences of these disparities on telly. Why stand by your man when you can do better? Or, maybe you can do better (My wife certainly could!)

Now, given my views of my family, growing up, I don't mind reducing family ties. I moved out as soon as I could, and didn't go back very much. But I would be upset if my sons had that attitude. MANY people don't like their families; growth and modernity mean they can bail. What are the consequences, long-term, for the nature of society?