Licensing Parents: Can We Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect?

By Jack C. Westman | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
The Costs of
Incompetent Parenting

Each of our children represents either a potential addition to the productive capacity and the enlightened citizenship of the nation, or, if allowed to suffer from neglect, a potential addition to the destructive forces of the community.

-- THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Special Message to Congress, 19091

I tried without success to find out if anyone had placed an economic value on competent patenting and an economic cost on incompetent parenting. I discovered in my quest that most economists do not think of parenting as having economic significance.

The traditional theories of economics deal only with the financial value of goods and services. They do not place an economic value on human activities outside of the marketplace, such as parenting. Because of the prospect of an inadequately prepared workforce in the United States, however, economists are beginning to place a financial value on the human factors in our economy. We no longer can assume that there will be an adequate supply of productive workers.

As the preceding chapters have shown, the quality of the workforce has a direct relationship to the quality of parenting children receive. Because it adversely affects the motivation, the competence, and the

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