Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Musings on Community and Family Production

One part of the debate around a "need" for less employment in the future (supposedly, that is), is a rationale that women could simply resume duties in the home, as workplace patterns are gradually replaced by technology. However, due to earlier technology in the twentieth century, the work involved that was actually necessary (as opposed to desirable) for home production, was also drastically reduced. Hmm...

Home production as a personal voluntary (consumption) choice, tends to be quite different from what were once time consuming work obligations. When GDP was developed this shift was already occurring, which helps to explain why home based work roles were left out of economic measurement. How to think about this? My argument is that while most family production isn't necessary on economic terms, there is real need for local community production - particularly in the form of a knowledge based services economy.

Should this issue be addressed, it helps to remember that cultural considerations are also at stake. Who would prefer today's production/consumption roles at home, and who desires to stay in the marketplace? The worst case scenario (i.e. in the long run) would ultimately be a reversion to more difficult family home production, should policy makers and supply side interests remain passive regarding production reform for too long. What's at stake is not just a matter of deflation in terms of lost economic activity, but a broad panorama of economic freedom.

In order for traditional manufacture to maintain choice for home environments, communities need the additional wealth of locally created services production. Human capital needs to be directly coordinated and managed, in order to remove extensive burdens from governmental budgets. In the future, it is vital that nations begin to rely on the knowledge use and skills capacity of their citizens at local levels, especially as more national resources are tapped in the near future for external threats.

None of this is to suggest that single income households would not be a desirable option for family formation - only that single income families appear to be somewhat of a luxury.* Even though the role of women (or men) at home could experience a resurgence among higher income levels, it's difficult to envision this as a viable option any time soon, for family formation at lower income levels.

Local corporations would structure for incremental ownership in ways which protect individuals as a single entity. In other words, no legal assumptions would be made about the work a husband or wife may perform in a given relationship, which is not calculated in normal economic terms. In particular, anyone with small wages needs clear asset delineations which are solely their own. Paradoxically, individuals have the chance to maintain better familial relations, when legal protections (and accessible environments) acknowledge the reality of small wages and variable income streams.

Knowledge use systems would utilize coordination patterns which make it easier for lower income levels to juggle the needs of family versus workplace - much as earlier forms of spontaneous coordination were able to achieve. For one, children are willing and able to assume a certain degree of social and economic responsibility, long before they are given the chance to do so in today's society. Greater densities in living and working environments, would also solve many issues which lower income families presently face.

*Prosperous regions would also have less incentive to loosen zoning for lower income levels, and more incentive to provide housing options which makes it possible for higher income families to maintain households with a single income.

P.S. Of the frictions that can limit women in the workplace, Dietz Vollrath notes:
Rich countries are not necessarily any better at limiting these frictions than poor countries.

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