The Invisible Heart by Nancy Folbre
Economics and Family Values

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Synopsis

A brilliant new approach to the economics of caregiving, from the MacArthur Award-winning economist. There has been much talk about family values in recent years, but little examination of the economic forces that are exploding family life and limiting the caregiving that families can provide. As Folbre points out in her provocative and insightful new book, every society must confront the problem of balancing self-interested pursuits with care for others—including children, the elderly, and the infirm. Historically, most societies enjoyed an increased supply of care by maintaining strict limits on women's freedom. But as these limits happily and inevitably give way, there are many consequences for those who still need care. Using the image of "the invisible heart" to evoke the forces of compassion that must temper the forces of self-interest, Folbre argues that if we don't establish a new set of rules defining our mutual responsibilities for caregiving, the penalties suffered by the needy—our very families—will increase. Intensified economic competition may drive altruism and families out of business. A leading feminist economist, Nancy Folbre writes in a lively, personal style—Molly Ivins cheek-to-cheek with John Kenneth Galbraith—and develops a distinctive approach to the economics of care. Unlike others who praise family values, Folbre acknowledges the complicated relationship between women and altruism. Her book offers new interpretations of such policy issues as welfare reform, school finance, and progressive taxation, and it confronts the challenges of globalization, outlining strategies for developing an economic system that rewards both individual achievement and care for others.

Chapters include:
The Milk of Human Kindness
The Care Penalty
Measuring Success
The Nanny State
Children as Pets
Robin Hood School
The Golden Eggs
CorporNation
Dancing in the Dark

 

About Nancy Folbre

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NANCY FOLBRE is Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. BARBARA BERGMANN is Professor of Economics at the American University, Washington, D.C. and the author of The Economic Emergence of Women. BINA AGARWAL is Professor of Agricultural Economics at the Institute of Agricultural Economics at Delhi University and is currently a Fellow at the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe/Harvard University and the author of several books, including Mechanization in Indian Agriculture. MARIA FLORO is Assistant Professor of Economics at the American University in Washington, D.C.
 
Published April 1, 2001 by New Press. 267 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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As the "invisible hand" of the free market and the competitive individualism it engenders increasingly dominate public life, contends UMass-Amherst economist and MacArthur fellow Folbre (Who Pays for the Kids?), we risk losing the other necessary component of a healthy society: "the invisible hea...

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