Nancy Folbre


long-term care book

Universal Coverage of Long-Term Care in the United States. Can We Get There From Here?

New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2012

The essays in this book describe recent developments in long-term care policy in the U.S. and Europe, summarizing research relevant to progress toward a truly universal long-term care system.

Available as an e-book at

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For Love and Money. Care Provision in the United States

New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2012

As women moved into the formal labor force in large numbers over the last forty years, care work – traditionally provided primarily by women – has increasingly shifted from the family arena to the market. Child care, elder care, care for the disabled, and home care now account for a growing segment of low-wage work in the United States, and demand for such work will only increase as the baby boom generation ages. But the expanding market provision of care has created new economic anxieties and raised pointed questions: Why do women continue to do most care work, both paid and unpaid? Why does care work remain low paid when the quality of care is so highly valued? How effective and equitable are public policies toward dependents in the United States? In For Love and Money, an interdisciplinary team of experts explores the theoretical dilemmas of care provision and provides an unprecedented empirical overview of the looming problems for the care sector in the United States.

Saving State U: Why We Must Fix Public Higher Education

New York: New Press, 2010

Once upon a time, students who were willing and able to work hard could obtain an affordable, high-quality education at a public university. Those times are gone. Intensified admissions competition coupled with opposition to public spending has scorched every campus. Budget cuts, tuition hikes, and debt burdens are undermining the best path to upward mobility that this country ever built.

But Americans still embrace ideals of equal opportunity and know that higher education represents a public good. Students, faculty, staff, and advocates are beginning to build political coalitions and develop new strategies to improve access, enhance quality, and simplify financial aid. This book celebrates and fortifies their efforts.

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Greed, Lust, and Gender. A History of Economic Ideas

New York: Oxford University Press, 2009

When does the pursuit of self-interest go too far, lapsing into morally unacceptable behaviour? Until the unprecedented events of the recent global financial crisis economists often seemed unconcerned with this question, even suggesting that "greed is good." A closer look, however, suggests that greed and lust are generally considered good only for men, and then only outside the realm of family life. The history of Western economic ideas shows that men have given themselves more cultural permission than women for the pursuit of both economic and sexual self-interest. Feminists have long contested the boundaries of this permission, demanding more than mere freedom to act more like men. Women have gradually gained the power to revise our conceptual and moral maps and to insist on a better-and less gendered-balance between self interest and care for others.


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Valuing Children: Rethinking the Economics of the Family

Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008

This book challenges the conventional economist’s assumption that parents have children for the same reason that they acquire pets—primarily for the pleasure of their company. Children become the workers and taxpayers of the next generation, and “investments” in them offer a significant payback to other participants in the economy.

Yet parents, especially mothers, pay most of the costs. The high price of childrearing pushes many families into poverty, often with adverse consequences for children themselves.

Parents spend time as well as money on children. Yet most estimates of the “cost” of children ignore the value of this time. This book provides a startlingly high but entirely credible estimate of the value of parental time per child by asking what it would cost to purchase a comparable substitute for it.

It also emphasizes the need for better accounting of public expenditure on children over the life cycle and describes the need to rethink the very structure and logic of the welfare state. A new institutional structure could promote more cooperative, sustainable, and efficient commitments to the next generation.


Family Time: The Social Organization of Care

New York: Routledge, 2004

Time is not money. If anything, it is more important than money. The time we have to care for one another, especially for our children and our elderly, is more precious to us than anything else in the world. Yet we have more experience accounting for money than we do for time.

In this volume, leading experts in analysis of time-use from across the globe explore the interface between time-use and family policy. They show how social institutions limit the choices that individuals can make about how to divide their time between paid and unpaid work. They challenge conventional surveys that offer simplistic measures of time spent in childcare or eldercare. They summarize empirical evidence concerning trends in time devoted to the care of family members and debate ways of assigning a monetary value to this time.

The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values

New York: The New Press, 2001.

This readable, well-documented, and thought-provoking work, discusses the invisible heart of caring labor, which is not easily put in terms of dollars. It explains how this concept relates to Adam Smith's notion of the invisible hand with regard to supply and demand and the pursuit of self-interests. For centuries, women provided care for free in the home. Now, with more of them working outside the home, what used to be a priority for them is in the hands of institutions that do not obtain the funding priorities other endeavors have in the global economy. The ability to provide personal and loving care is being eroded.

The Ultimate Field Guide to the U.S. Economy

(with James Heintz and the Center for Popular Economics).
New York: The New Press, 2000

Revised and expanded with the most recent data, The Ultimate Field Guide to the U.S. Economy is an all-new edition of the classic primer on American economics. As in the past, this highly illustrated guide brings key policy issues to life, reflecting the collective wit and wisdom of the best economic literacy activists in the country. Ten chapters tell you what you need to know about owners, workers, women, people of color, welfare and education, government spending, health, environment, macroeconomics, and the global economy. A glossary and conceptual tool kit help make sense of the facts.

Look for the companion website at

The War on the Poor: A Defense Manual

(with Randy Albelda and the Center for Popular Economics)
New York: The New Press, 1996.

This terrific compendium fully refutes every fathead, right-wing assertion you've ever heard about why poverty should be blamed on the poor.

You know all these times you've heard Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich make some outrageous statement about welfare moms and thought to yourself, 'Nah, that can't be right.' It's not.

The War on the Poor gives you the facts to fire back. Keep it at your side when calling into radio talk shows, writing your representative, or even arguing with your dim-witted brother-in-law. ~~Molly Ivins
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Who Pays for the Kids? Gender and the Structures of Constraint

New York: Routledge, 1994.

Three paradoxes surround the division of the costs of social reproduction:

* Women have entered the paid labour force in growing numbers, but they continue to perform most of the unpaid labour of housework and childcare.
* Birth rates have fallen but more and more mothers are supporting children on their own, with little or no assistance from fathers.
* The growth of state spending is often blamed on malfunctioning markets, or runaway bureaucracies. But a large percentage of social spending provides substitutes for income transfers that once took place within families.

Who Pays for the Kids? explains how this paradoxical situation has arisen to varying degrees in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America.

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