New Article: Erez Aloni, The Marital Wealth Gap, 93 Wash. L. Rev. 1 (2018). Abstract below:
Married couples are wealthier than people in all other family structures. The top 10% of wealth holders are, in great proportion, married. Even among the wealthiest households, married couples hold significantly more wealth than others. The Article identifies this phenomenon as the “Marital Wealth Gap,” and critiques the role of diverse legal mechanisms in creating and maintaining it. Marriage also contributes to the concentration of wealth because marriage patterns are increasingly assortative: wealth marries wealth. The law entrenches or even exacerbates these class-based marriage patterns by erecting structural barriers that hinder people from meeting across economic strata.
How can the state restructure the law to alleviate the marital wealth gap? The Article proposes a fundamental shift in the way the state treats wealth and family status. It advances a theory grounded in transformative “recognition and redistribution” that decentralizes marriage’s monopoly on wealth-related benefits and simultaneously aims to reduce wealth concentration among the richest households. Principally, since marriage is the preserve of the well-off, the state should decouple wealth benefits from marriage. At the same time, it should combat the structures that enable wealth concentration among affluent married couples, thereby dismantling the architecture that supports the marital wealth gap.
New Article: Maxine Eichner, The Privatized American Family, 93 Notre Dame L. Rev. 213 (2017). Abstract below:
Part I of this Article describes the privatized-family model that dominates U.S. law and policy today, as well as the negative effects this model is having in the contemporary United States. Part II turns to U.S. history, investigating the national conversation regarding the appropriate relationship among the government-market-family triad. As historian Robert Self put it, competing narratives of the place of families are “deeply etched in competing narratives of national identity,” and are fundamental to our social contract. Part II first considers the narratives that supported the rise of the twentieth-century welfare state, which regulated the market to support families. It then contrasts these with the justifications for dismantling welfare-state protections at the end of the century, which introduced the privatized-family model. I argue that the vision underlying this newer regulatory model does not adequately support the important functions that families serve.
Finally, Part III offers my “buffered-spheres” model as a better alternative for regulating the market-family relationship. This model would delink provision of the conditions families need to thrive from their individual market power. Under this model, the state would no longer stand aside as a neutral party when it comes to whether families can obtain the necessary conditions for sound families, but would actively facilitate these conditions. In today’s economy, this means that regulation would not only encourage adults to work, as it does today, but would also ensure parents publicly paid parental leave, ensure children optimal early childhood education while parents work, and support all adults being able to go home at the end of the workday.
New Article: Danielle Keats Citron, A Poor Mother’s Right to Privacy: A Review, 98 B.U. L. Rev. (2018, Forthcoming). Abstract below:
Collecting personal data is a feature of daily life. Businesses, advertisers, agencies, and law enforcement amass massive reservoirs of our personal data. This state of affairs—what I am calling the “collection imperative”—is justified in the name of efficiency, convenience, and security. The unbridled collection of personal data, meanwhile, leads to abuses. Public and private entities have disproportionate power over individuals and groups whose information they have amassed. Nowhere is that power disparity more evident than for the state’s surveillance of the indigent. Poor mothers, in particular, have vanishingly little privacy. Whether or not poor mothers receive subsidized prenatal care, the existential state of poor mothers is persistent and indiscriminate state surveillance.
Professor Khiara Bridges’s book, The Poverty of Privacy Rights, advances the project of securing privacy for the most vulnerable among us. It shows how the moral construction of poverty animates the state’s surveillance of poor mothers, rather than legitimate concerns about prenatal care. It argues that poor mothers have a constitutional right not to be known if the state’s data collection efforts demean and humiliate them for no good reason. The Poverty of Privacy Rights provides an important lens for rethinking the data collection imperative more generally. It supplies a theory not only on which a constitutional right to information privacy can be built but also on which positive law and norms can develop. Concepts of reciprocity may provide another analytical tool to understand a potential right to be as unknown to government as it is to us.
Batchelder, Lily L. and Maag, Elaine and Huang, Chye-Ching and Horton, Emily, Assessing President Trump’s Child Care Proposals (October 30, 2017). National Tax Journal, Forthcoming. [Abstract below]
During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump proposed three tax benefits for child care: a credit for low-income families, an above-the-line deduction, and tax-subsidized savings accounts. While these proposals laudably bring attention to the heavy burden that child care costs place on many low- and middle-income families, they are a case study in how not to reform child care policy. They are unduly complicated, arbitrarily exclude certain low-income families, deliver support well after child care payments are due, and provide the largest benefits to higher-income families who need the least help.
Naomi Schoenbaum, Stuck or Rooted? The Costs of Mobility and the Value of Place, 127 Yale L.J. F. 458 (2017)[Abstract below]
David Schleicher has written an important article on the relationship between law and mobility, arguing for policymakers to be more concerned with policies that stand in the way of individuals moving to bigger, more productive cities. This Response takes up the costs of mobility for productivity, welfare, and sex equality omitted by Schleicher, and addresses Schleicher’s treatment of place as a market. It argues that Schleicher’s argument fails to account for how mobility interacts with critical relationships. While Schleicher’s view of productivity is premised in agglomeration economics, he ignores how mobility ruptures the very relationships on which the benefits of agglomeration (and broader welfare metrics) depend. He also misses how moves often are not made by individuals, but rather by families, and neglects the fact that such moves often entail losses for women. Finally, Schleicher’s treatment of place as a market, where individuals should essentially move to the highest bidder, ignores how our attachments to places run far deeper than the labor market opportunities they afford.
Kyle Rozema, Nicolas R. Ziebarth, Taxing Consumption and the Take-up of Public Assistance: The Case of Cigarette Taxes and Food Stamps, Univ. Chi. L. Rev. (2017). [Abstract below]
We exploit cigarette tax variation across US states from 2001 to 2012 to show
how taxing inelastic consumption goods can induce low-income households to
enroll in public assistance programs. Using a novel household panel of monthly
food stamp enrollment from the Current Population Survey, we enrich standard
cigarette tax difference-in-differences models with an additional control group:
nonsmoking households. Smoking households are treated with higher taxes,
while nonsmoking households are not. Marginal smoking households respond
to increases in cigarette taxes by taking up food stamps at rates higher than
smoking households in other states and nonsmoking households in the same
Radley Balko, Mississippi judge resigns after barring mother from seeing newborn because of unpaid court fees, Washington Post, October 26, 2017. [“The mother has been forbidden from any contact with her newborn for 14 of the 18 months the child has been alive.”]
Annie Lowrey, America’s Child-Poverty Rate Has Hit a Record Low, The Atlantic, October 5, 2017. [“It fell thanks to government policies, not the expansion of the economy…”]
Chad Stone, The Safety Net is Crucial for Kids, U.S. News, October 13, 2017. [“Government programs like tax credits and SNAP are proven to lower childhood poverty rates.”]
Posted in Family, Food, Health, Inequality, Op-Ed, Politics, Race, Socio-Economic Rights, Uncategorized, Urban Issues, Welfare
New Book: Daphna Hacker, Legalized Families in the Era of Bordered Globalization (2017). Overview below:
Providing a panoramic and interdisciplinary perspective, this book explores the interrelations between globalization, borders, families and the law. It considers the role of international, multi-national and religious laws in shaping the lives of the millions of families that are affected by the opportunities and challenges created by globalization, and the ongoing resilience of national borders and cultural boundaries. Examining familial life-span stages – establishing spousal relations, raising children and being cared for in old age – Hacker demonstrates the fruitfulness in studying families beyond the borders of national family law, and highlights the relevance of immigration and citizenship law, public and private international law and other branches of law. This book provides a rich empirical description of families in our era. It is relevant not only to legal scholars and practitioners but also to scholars and students within the sociology of the family, globalization studies, border studies, immigration studies and gender studies.