Protecting Families in a Global Economy

Dau-Schmidt, Kenneth G.; Brun, Carmen
January 2006
Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies;Winter2006, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p165
Academic Journal
The globalization of the economy has placed tremendous pressure on the modern family. Throughout the developed world, marriage rates are declining, birth and fertility rates are falling, real wages are flat or declining, and hours of family external labor supplied are rising. Finding a spouse and raising children can be inconsistent with the demands of careers in the global economy of the new information age. Globalization of the economy tends to encourage individualism and mobility, in direct opposition to family relationships. Moreover, the extensive period of training that is necessary to compete in the global economy interferes with marriage and childrearing and increases the costs of raising children. Finally, the global economy has resulted in increased demand for flexible labor, requiring many lower- and middle-class families to increase time spent in the paid workforce, often with few or no additional benefits. This essay examines the different ways industrialized countries have responded to these problems and discusses the effectiveness of these possible solutions in the context of the global economy. In Part I, we present a definition of the family and some of the costs and benefits of family relationships. In Part II, we explore the reasons behind the current underinvestment in families, including the demands of the marketplace and government policies that promote market labor and undervalue children. In Part III, we discuss the "new" family and the fact that people are getting married less, and later in life, having fewer children, and spending less time raising children. Finally, in Part IV, we survey the ways in which several industrialized countries have addressed the problems of families in the global economy both through the market and government policies.


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