The Costs of Children
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The Costs of Children

Parenting and Democracy in Contemporary Europe

Edited by David G. Mayes and Mark Thomson

The expert contributors provide an assessment of how countries can handle the fair allocation of the costs of childcare. They look at the experience within Europe in recent years and show in particular how these interrelate with the objectives of improving income, employment and social inclusion. The book’s conclusion reveals that choice is the key ingredient as families have different views and different degrees of support available from their relatives. Income and social inclusion can provide choice but ironically employment does not always. An employment-based model can sometimes narrow people’s choices, particularly for people on low wages. The major concern is that most existing systems effectively discriminate against mothers.
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Chapter 3: Valuation of children and childcare


In her intriguing analysis Pricing the Priceless Child, Viviana Zelizer (1994) examined the transformation in the economic and emotional valuation of children in the United States in the period 1870s to the 1930s. Highlighting the rise of the emotionally ‘priceless’ child, she noted how, in strict economic terms, ‘children have become worthless to their parents’ (p. 3). Children are expensive, she observed, and increasingly so, with the costs of bringing up a child rising substantially in the US in the period under study. While Zelizer’s discussion engages primarily with the changing relationship between parents and markets, this chapter draws attention to a different transformation in the valuation of children – one that first took place in Scandinavia in the 1970s with renegotiation of the traditional institutional balance of responsibility for caring for young children and a redistribution of the costs entailed. National policies signalled a redrawing of the boundaries between the public and private spheres, and especially between the state and the family.

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