Saturday, July 23, 2011
Gwyneth Paltrow is advertising for a tutor for her kids, aged 6 and 8:
‘The ideal candidate will have received a classical education, including Latin and Greek, and be familiar with such elements as the history of thought from a philosophical perspective. He or she should also be musically fluent and play at least one instrument well. In addition, language skills are essential and the Tutor should have fluent French and at least one other of Spanish, Italian, Mandarin or Japanese. The Tutor will also need to be fit and healthy, enjoy many sports and pastimes both indoors and out, including painting, art, or art history and drama, as well as sports such as chess, tennis, fencing or a martial art.’
Read more about this kind of parenting here.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Sara Cools, John Fiva (Norwegian School of Mgmt. Dept. of Econ) & Lars Kirkeboen have posted "Causal Effects of Paternity Leave on Children and Parents" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
In this paper we use a parental leave reform directed towards fathers to identify the causal effects of paternity leave on children’s and parents’ outcomes. We document that paternity leave causes fathers to become more important for children’s cognitive skills. School performance at age 16 increases for children whose father is relatively higher educated than the mother. We find no evidence that fathers’ earnings and work hours are affected by paternity leave. Contrary to expectation, mothers’ labor market outcomes are adversely affected by paternity leave. Our findings do therefore not suggest that paternity leave shifts the gender balance at home in a way that increases mothers’ time and/or effort spent at market work.
An interesting article in the Huffington Post about how to talk to young girls:
I went to a dinner party at a friend's home last weekend, and met her five-year-old daughter for the first time.
Little Maya was all curly brown hair, doe-like dark eyes, and adorable in her shiny pink nightgown. I wanted to squeal, "Maya, you're so cute! Look at you! Turn around and model that pretty ruffled gown, you gorgeous thing!"
But I didn't. I squelched myself. As I always bite my tongue when I meet little girls, restraining myself from my first impulse, which is to tell them how darn cute/ pretty/ beautiful/ well-dressed/ well-manicured/ well-coiffed they are.
Read more here.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Frijters, Johnston & Shields: "Destined for (Un)Happiness: Does Childhood Predict Adult Life Satisfaction?"
Paul Frijters (Queensland Univ. of Tech. School of Econ and Finance), David Johnston (Univ. of Melbourne) & Michael Shields (Univ. of Melbourne Dept. of Econ.) have posted "Destined for (Un)Happiness: Does Childhood Predict Adult Life Satisfaction?" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
In this paper we address the question of how much of adult life satisfaction is predicted by childhood traits, parental characteristics and family socioeconomic status. Given the current focus of many national governments on measuring population well-being, and renewed focus on effective policy interventions to aid disadvantaged children, we study a cohort of children born in a particular week in 1958 in Britain who have been repeatedly surveyed for 50 years. Importantly, at four points in their adult lives this cohort has been asked about their life satisfaction (at ages 33, 42, 46, and 50). A substantive finding is that characteristics of the child and family at birth predict no more than 1.2% of the variance in average adult life satisfaction. A comprehensive set of child and family characteristics at ages 7, 11 and 16 increases the predictive power to only 2.8%, 4.3% and 6.8%, respectively. We find that the conventional measures of family socioeconomic status, in the form of parental education, occupational class and family income, are not strong predictors of adult life satisfaction. However, we find robust evidence that non-cognitive skills as measured by childhood behavioural-emotional problems, and social maladjustment, are powerful predictors of whether a child grows up to be a satisfied adult. We also find that some aspects of personality are important predictors. Adding contemporaneous adulthood variables for health and socio-economic status increases the predictability of average life satisfaction to 15.6%, while adding long-lags of life satisfaction increases the predictive power to a maximum of 35.5%. Repeating our analyses using data from the 1970 British Cohort Study confirms our main findings. Overall, the results presented in the paper point to average adult life satisfaction not being strongly predictable from a wide-range of childhood and family characteristics by age 16, which implies that there is high equality of opportunity to live a satisfied life, at least for individuals born in Britain in 1958 and 1970.
A tale of two different fathers has emerged in America: Those who regularly participate in their children's everyday lives and those who live apart from their kids, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.
"On the one hand, fathers who live with their kids seem to be far more actively involved with their kids than they were 50 years ago," says Gretchen Livingston, the lead author of the Pew study.
"But at the same time, the share of dads living apart from their children has more than doubled" since 1960.
Now, roughly one out of every four fathers lives separately from a child, meaning 20.3 million children don't have a dad in their house.
Read more here.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Ehsan Zar Rokh (University of Tehran) has posted "Marriage and Divorce Under Iranian Family Law" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The selection of a marriage partner is normally determined by customary preference, economic circumstances, and geographic considerations. Marriage arrangements in villages and among the lower and traditional middle classes of urban areas tend to follow traditional patterns. When a young man is judged ready for marriage, his parents will visit the parents of a girl whom they believe to be a suitable match. In many cases, the man will have already expressed an interest in the girl and have asked his parents to begin these formalities. If the girl's parents show similar interest in the union, the conversation quickly turns to money. There must be an agreement on the amount of the bride-price that will be given to the bride's family at the time of marriage. In principle this payment is supposed to compensate the girl's family for her loss, but in practice it is used primarily to finance the cost of the wedding. The exact sum varies according to the wealth, social position, and degree of kinship of the two families.
Once the two families have agreed to the marriage, the prospective bride and groom are considered engaged. The courtship period now commences and may extend for a year or more, although generally the engagement lasts less than twelve months. The actual wedding involves a marriage ceremony and a public celebration. The ceremony is the signing of a marriage contract in the presence of a mullah. One significant feature of the marriage contract is the mahriyeh, a stipulated sum that the groom gives to his new bride. The mahriyeh usually is not paid at the time of the marriage, especially in marriages between cousins. The contract notes that it is to be paid, however, in the event of divorce or, in case of the husband's death, to be deducted from his estate before the inheritance is divided according to religious law. If the mahriyeh is waived, as sometimes happens in urban areas, this too must be stipulated in the marriage contract. Polygyny in Iran is regulated by Islamic custom, which permits a man to have as many as four wives simultaneously, provided that he treats them equally. Shia Islam, unlike Sunni Islam, also recognizes a special form of temporary marriage called muta. In a muta marriage, the man and woman sign a contract agreeing to live together as husband and wife for a specified time, which can be as brief as several hours or as long as ninety-nine years. There is no limit on the number of muta marriages that a man may contract. Generally marriages in Islamic law have four important purposes: 1. to restrain sexual passion. 2. The ordering of domestic life. 3. The care and responsibility towards children. 4. The expansion of the family. Divorce in Iran historically has been easier for a man to obtain than for a woman. Men could exercise the right of repudiation of wives according to the guidelines of Islamic law. Women were permitted to leave their husbands on narrowly defined grounds, such as insanity or impotence. Legislation was passed permitting women to initiate divorce proceedings in certain limited circumstances. I'm trying to have empirical study about marriage and divorce in Iranian society and law.
There is some discussion in MA of a change in alimony laws. From the Boston Herald:
Today, welfare laws reflect current expectations of self-sufficiency, allowing able-bodied persons to receive public support only temporarily. Yet, under Massachusetts divorce law, first spouses can collect alimony for life (even after the payer has retired) regardless of the duration of the marriage.
Thus, a man who earns more than his former spouse of less than five years may be forced to pay lifetime alimony, even if the ex is an educated 30-something fully capable of supporting herself.
Second wives and ex-husbands are not the only ones frustrated with the system.
Read more here.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (RFPCU) took effect on June 1, 2011. It recognizes civil unions, affording unionized parties “the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits as are afforded to spouses.” Parties may be “of either the same or opposite sex.” The RFPCU reflects federal constitutional equalities. As declared in Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972), “if the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental inrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.”
Notwithstanding the directive for “same” treatment, however, marriages and opposite sex unions are naturally different than same sex unions. At times there can be no absolute sameness. Consider parenthood. Same sex unions can never produce children genetically-tied to both partners. Similarly, though husbands and wives are generally accorded equal treatment regarding children born into marriage, here too there are differences. Only wives bear children. The U.S. Supreme Court has declared that mothers automatically are accorded parental rights at birth, while fathers only have parental opportunity interests which must be affirmatively seized.
How should legal parenthood at birth arise when children are born into civil unions? Should the standards differ between same sex female and male couples? Between married and unionized opposite sex couples? These questions are addressed in the article, which explores the Parentage Act, the Gestational Surrogacy Act, and voluntary paternity acknowledgment practices. The article concludes that Illinois legislators should consider new parentage laws rather than leaving important family law policies to the Illinois courts which can only resolve assisted reproduction and other parentage cases “on the particular circumstances presented.” In re Parentage of M.J., 203 Ill.2d 526 (2003). “Unitary” families, subject to significant potential governmental protections under Michael H. v. Gerald D., 491 U.S. 110 (1989), deserve more clarity so that parent-child relationships can develop early on with little fear of later disruptions.
Monday, July 18, 2011
This article provides a general introduction to the specific challenges facing LGBT elders. In addition to the general burdens of aging, LGBT elders are disadvantaged by a number of LGBT-specific concerns, most notably: the legal fragility of their support systems, high levels of financial insecurity compounded by ineligibility for spousal benefits, and the continued prevalence of anti-LGBT bias on the part of their non-LGBT peers and service providers. Part I outlines the ways in which LGBT elders differ from their non-LGBT peers in terms of demographics and their reliance on “chosen family,” as well as some of the particular issues confronting transgender elders. Part II turns to two issues that loom large in the lives of LGBT elders: the closet and the constant threat of anti-LGBT bias. It contends that pre-Stonewall history continues to inform the behavior and beliefs of LGBT elders, and that the prevalence of anti-LGBT bias and violence distorts their view of the aging process. Part III discusses the extent to which LGBT elders can use traditional estate planning tools to safeguard their interests. A brief conclusion summarizes the types of reforms that are necessary to ensure dignity and equity in aging regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. It argues that the limitations of existing planning tools should serve as a powerful reminder that many elder law issues require a wider lens and that the reach of elder law ultimately extends well beyond the finer points of estate planning and the spousal impoverishment rules. Aging in the U.S. is first and foremost a civil rights issue that implicates fundamental issues of justices and fairness. In this regard, the isolation and fear experienced by LGBT elders should strike a universal chord, as should their call for dignity and equity in aging.