Caring and Theories of Welfare Economics
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O'Shea, E. (). "Caring and Theories of Welfare Economics" (Working Paper No. 007) Department of Economics, National University of Ireland, Galway.
This paper explores the relationship between theories of welfare economics and our understanding of the care of old people within families. It is difficult to make sense of family care relationships within the framework of any single approach to welfare economics. Standard utilitarian welfare economics implies that there are no transendent standards of morality, virtue or justice for appraising human actions. This view is hard to reconcile with the amount of care given by families to dependent and vulnerable old people living at home. The nature of informal caring relationships rests on a delicate balance between affection, reciprocity and moral responsibility. Utilitarianism is a useful way to begin the evaluation process, but it cannot fully capture the complexity of caring relationships, which require a far deeper understanding of human interaction than revealed preference analysis allows. Economists, and others working in this area, must be prepared to explore other theories of welfare economics if progress is to be made on understanding care relationships.