Parental Responsibility for Children--Posner's Response to Comments
I regret having failed to respond to comments on my last week's posting, on truancy. I recognize the irony; I have been truant. Let me belatedly respond to two particularly important comments.
The first is that the "carrot" approach, as in the Progresa program that Becker mentions, may work much better in underdeveloped countries, for example countries in which many girls are kept out of school by their parents. To take an extreme example, if 50 percent of children are truant, then paying all parents to send their kids to school will have a chance of affecting the attendance of half the children; if only 1 percent are truant, then 99 percent of parents receive a payment that will not affect their behavior because their children are not truant.
Second, a point as important as it is obvious, getting kids into school will confer few if any social benefits unless schooling improves their life prospects, particularly their employment prospects. If there are no jobs for them when they get out, the only effect of giving them schooling may be to radicalize them. It is thus ironic that the French have a program for forcing kids into school, since the job opportunities for graduates are so limited by the country's employment laws.