Friday, September 21, 2012

Comparative advantage and sex roles

BP asks about applying a concept from classical economics to societal sex roles:
Thanks a ton for alphagame.  You've helped met turn a lot of stuff around.  Quick question: Do you think Ricardo's Law of Comparative Advantage supports traditional gender roles in that even if women could be better scientists, that they should still focus in child-rearing etc because that's where they excel?
Given that I am a fairly notorious critic of free trade and David Ricardo's theory - not law - of comparative advantage, I do not believe comparative advantage would be a sound basis for arguing that women should focus on child-rearing instead of science or whatever.  Especially when the argument is completely unnecessary, as we now possess massive quantities of evidence showing that the modern equalitarian system, which encourages women to obtain college degrees and pursue professional careers in lieu of marrying and bearing children, is neither economically beneficial nor demographically self-sustaining.

Of course, most women and equalitarian men will not believe this until they see, with their own eyes, what they once considered to be their society vanishing on every side around them.  That's fine, virtually no one in the Soviet Union was expecting the 1989 collapse of Communist rule either.  The problem is that one can walk through the math and talk all one wants about grade schools in London where no one speaks English, but very few people will believe it can happen in their city or their neighborhood until one day they step out of their house and find themselves surrounded by their successors.

11 comments:

Hubbard said...

Vox--

Your correspondent is on the same track as Gary Becker, who wrote about this in his book A Treatise on the Family back in 1981 (which helped him win the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1992). Long story short: Becker argued that women entering the workforce would raise the opportunity cost of childcare, and would therefore lower birthrates.

Steve Canyon said...

The whole women in the workforce benefits society arguments strike me as similar to those argued in favor of Keynesian economic policies.

Feh said...

"The whole women in the workforce benefits society arguments strike me as similar to those argued in favor of Keynesian economic policies."

And like the arguments for importing millions of helots because they raise the net GDP or something.

Christian Player said...

One thing is for sure, marrying women with money doesn't seem to make a better relationship, as even feminists are admitting (see heartiste).

Aeoli Pera said...

Ricardo's theory is just fine when the assumptions are met. That means two people (or more) whose individual, net economic contributions are both positive.

Then again, that's asking a lot. (Plus, you know what's more fun? Nation building!)

JCclimber said...

If I ever got married (and I did), I planned on having children (I did). The plan was to homeschool (we are).

What was never set in stone was which spouse would stay home. I was happy to be the stay at home dad, and said so. The caveat was that it would be permanent, not try it out for 2 years and see if she liked it or not.

Funny that I haven't met any women yet who preferred working over staying home and working at home doing more important things.

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