Black Sites: Locating the Family and Family Law in Development
University of Toronto - Faculty of Law
American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 58, No. 4, p. 1023, 2010
While the family as an economic institution has traditionally been sidelined in development policy, development institutions like the World Bank now promote a range of legal and policy reforms that touch on the family and the household. This Article considers how interventions designed to expand formal markets and to encourage participation in markets and investments in human capital might provoke change within the family and the household. Although they aim to increase welfare by increasing measurable economic growth, such interventions have both constitutive effects on the household itself and significant effects on the bargaining power of household members both at home and at work, effects that can be illuminated by attention to the legal reforms themselves.
Taking as its starting point the family as an economic entity, this Article taxonomizes the wide range of laws that effectively regulates the family and the household, and highlights properties of legal rules, such as their impact on the bargaining power of different social groups, that tend to be ignored or suppressed in regulatory and governance debates in the field of development. Aided by that expanded taxonomy, it investigates the impact on the family and the household of legal and policy initiatives in four areas: gender equality, social protection through conditional cash transfers, labor market formalization, and land titling. Tracing the effects of regulatory interventions across the market/household divide or continuum indicates how such reforms may induce households to adapt in ways that undermine as well as further welfare and equality objectives. But attention to the continual interactions between the household and the market not yet in view within general measurements and analyses of the economy, also indicate how and where they might sometimes undermine economic growth objectives as well.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: Family, Development Policy, Economic Intervention
Date posted: July 24, 2011