No Exit: What Parents Owe Their Children and What Society Owes Parents

Anne Alstott, Author, Anne L. Alstott, Author Oxford University Press, USA $16.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-19-516236-3
The data is in: at least one parent in every couple should make an 18-year commitment to put the needs of the child first--a""No Exit"" parenting covenant. Less obviously, Alstott, a Professor of Law at Yale and co-author of The Stakeholder, contends that because all of society benefits from the loving care that mothers and fathers provide (in the form of lower crime rates and a stronger workforce), all the members of society (including the childless) have an obligation to assist parents with the intensive labor of child rearing. Two recommendations emerge from this densely argued study: a $5,000 yearly grant to anyone caring for a child under the age of 13 that must be used for child care, education or retirement savings, and an insurance program designed for the parents of ill or disabled children. Throughout the text, Alstott defends her ideas against the anticipated arguments of libertarians, but feminists may also be displeased with her opposition to family friendly workplaces. (Alstott theorizes that employers will shift the cost of paid leave or flex time to employees and this will lead to lower wages for women.) While it's nice to have proof that Americans would benefit from such socially progressive programs, few parents or nonparents will need convincing that children's needs ought to come first. And despite the data, many strapped parents will wonder how much help $5,000 would really provide, though others may rejoin that five grand is a whole lot better than nothing.
Reviewed on: 05/01/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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