Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Families and Welfare

The traditional family managed inter-generational wealth transfers efficiently, without the intervention of the state. Parents cared for children when they were young, and children provided for their parents when they grew old. This worked well, because parents have their greatest earning power, when their children need expensive tertiary education. The children have their best earning power, when their parents are old and dependent on them.

The modern social welfare state has created problems by shifting wealth between generations without thought for the consequences. New retirement benefits are usually excessively generous to the current generation, while later generations are left to pay the bill. This problem is currently coming home to roost for many western nations, as they work their way through large unfunded pension liabilities.

At the same time a whole range of social changes have broken the bonds that held our wider families together. Often we do no know each other well, so we are not in a position to support each other. Christian community will have to be restored so that families can provide economic support for each other in times of need (Acts 11:27-29).

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