Distributional Problems: The Household and the State: JAMES S. COLEMAN

Social Philosophy and Policy 13 (1):284-300 (1996)

Abstract

With the development of the division of labor, the household has declined in importance as a unit of economic production. Yet even as the individual wage earner has assumed a central place in modern exchange economies, the household has still been seen as an important unit of distribution, in which wage earners provide for their non-income-producing family members. With the breakdown of the family in recent decades, however, the communal income-sharing function of the family has, in significant part, been taken overby the state. In this essay, I examine this fundamental change in the structure of production and distribution in modern exchange economies. Going beyond this, I propose a new structure of markets–markets for rights to influence collective decision-making within a society. Such markets, I suggest, wouldprovide a source of income for each member of the society.

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