Monday, April 17, 2006

On The Economics of National Culture-Becker

In his blog, prof Becker discussed about the factors the influenced our behavior and beliefs, such as education, rising income technology and so on...

excerpts from his post:

Ireland is an excellent example since not long ago Irish family patterns were the object of study by demographers only because they were so different. These patterns involved late ages at marriage, high birth rates, no divorce, and married women who spent their time mainly caring for children and their husbands. Enshrined in the Irish Constitution of the 1930's is the hope that married women would not work but instead they would be home taking care of their families.

All aspects of Irish family behavior changed radically during the past two decades: the typical family now has only about two children, divorce was legalized and is growing rapidly despite the Catholic Church's opposition, and the labor force participation of married women is becoming like that in other parts of Western Europe. The rapid economic growth Ireland experienced during the past couple of decades had a revolutionary impact on the incentives of parents to have many children, on attitudes about whether married women should work, and on whether married couples were obligated to remain together throughout their lives. What is fascinating about the Irish example is that these and other changes in family patterns of behavior occurred while Ireland remained a highly devout nation, with the highest rates of church attendance and other measures of religious belief in the Western world.

I like this reply by one of his readers:

What is the history of taxation in Ireland? Aren't taxes low right now in Ireland? People worship making dollars in Ireland because it is so attractive from a taxation standpoint.

People drink a lot of alcohol in Ireland. IN the past, when women can not divorce a guy for religious reasons, this fosters and accomodates guys who drink a lot. Under the old religious regime, a guy know the wife can not leave him no matter how much the guy drinks (and the concomitant problems from substance abuse).

Under the new regime, a guy knows he had better manage his drinking and not descend into a morass of abuse and unproductive behavior or else his wife will leavel him. This has to make the guys in Ireland more productive. Couple this with taxation and bam = economic growth!


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