Like Mother Like Daughter

A graph published in this weeks edition of The Economist shows how a woman’s earning power is impacted by having children. It turns out that there is a strong correlation between the amount of income a woman loses by having children and the earnings her mother lost by starting a family.

For example, if a mother took a significant drop in income to have children then her daughter is likely to do the same. Similarly, if a mother went straight back to work after having kids then her daughter is likely to follow suit.

The pace of change today is staggering. Even in my comparatively short lifetime, the world has transformed beyond recognition. Big cultural shifts, on the other hand, happen more slowly. While some things change rapidly others mutate at a more relaxed pace. 

Despite the flux of the modern world ones parents are still a good indicator of what a child’s future may hold for them. Some people get extremely frustrated with things like this. “We need rapid change now!” They proclaim.

For decisive alterations to happen they need time to take effect. Through culture, not by state decree. People would do well to remember this.


  1. Actually big cultural changes can happen quickly – for example the collapse of the family in many (although not all) Western countries since the start of the 1960s. Some libertarians have welcomed this “cultural change” – as they do not understand that the alternative to the family (and to traditional voluntary associations such as adult mutual aid fraternities and churches) is the all-mighty-state.

    For the left (Frankfurt School of Marxism types and French Post Modernism types) to welcome this cultural collapse (“cultural change”) makes sense – as they are collectivists and want an all powerful state (although the Marxists would claim that this was just a “stage” on a way to a stateless, but totally collectivist, society – in this the Marxists really have the same, demented, objective as the left-anarchists, no state but no private property in the means-of-production either).

    However, for some (some – certainly not all) libertarians to welcome the decline of such things as the traditional family is an error. “Liberation” (in the 1960s and so on sense) and liberty are very different things – indeed they are fundamentally opposed things. Without such things as the traditional family and voluntary mutual aid associations (such as fraternities and churches) people become “atomised” (isolated individuals) dependent on an all-powerful-state.



    1. I remember reading a historian’s account of the social changes in Britain since the 1950s. He remarked that although the nuclear family has taken a massive hit in recent years, the institution of marriage has remained perplexingly strong.

      I can’t remember the exact statistic but don’t 50% of modern marriages end in divorce?

      Of course being part of a family is important, but only insofar as it respects the freedoms of its members. One only has to read a Victorian or early 20th-century novel to see how damaging trying to appear ‘respectable’ for the good of mother and father could be for some people.



      1. The alternative to “old fashioned” families is THE STATE – providing the money for the mothers and children who no longer have husbands and fathers.


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