Economists vs Family (Human) Values?

Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers proposed an analogy between the supposed rigidity of European labor markets and the stability of European families:

“The U.S. labor market, like its marriage markets, differs from Europe in having substantially greater “churn”; in any given month in the United States, workers are more likely to be fired than are their European counterparts and those without a match are more likely to be hired. There is an emerging consensus that restrictions on churning in European labor markets yield inefficient labor markets with “too few” job separations. We do not mean to suggest by analogy that Europe is afflicted with too few divorces.”

Stevenson, Betsey and Justin Wolfers. 2007. “Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21: 2 (Spring): pp. 27-52, p. 50.


Although they downplay the seriousness of their analogy, they may actually be on to something. Economists also know that home ownership, which might also contribute to family stability, represents a barrier to labor mobility. In effect, the ideal members labor force would be people without any attachments. Even better, these workers sprout like mushrooms already formed, like an 18-years old, age and expire on the day of retirement.

1 comment so far

  1. FSK on

    Can you enable “full RSS feeds”? Your blog is sort of interesting, but you’ll have to enable the full RSS feed to keep my interest.


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