Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fraser Institute Hands Poor Families Their 'Get Out Poverty Free' Card



Whaddya know.

The fine folks at the Fraser Institute are saying that the 'prevailing estimates' of what it costs to raise a child are bunk:

...Prevailing estimates of the cost of a child for Canada and the United States, currently, tend to be in the range of $10,000 to $15,000 per annum. These cost estimates have a distinct middle class bias and do not reflect the reality of raising children in lower income and newer immigrant households... 

Why are they saying this?

Because the same fine folks from the Fraser Institute have just published a research study that backs them up one hundred percent (if not more):

...Examining the basic marginal costs necessary for the healthy development of a child, this paper finds that an annual outlay of $3,000 to $4,500 (depending on the community or region and the age of the child) would be sufficient...


I have never been a peer reviewer for these fine folks who say that they utilize a process that is 'rigorous' to review the studies they publish, this despite the fact that they also state that the process is overseen by in-house 'directors of the Institute's research departments'.

But even I, who am no social scientist, was left wondering why the study's author, Professor Chistopher Sarlo, did not include the cost of child care (or the cost of lost income if one parent stays home to provide the child care) as part of his 'annual outlay' estimate.

Well, here is what Professor Sarlo had to say about that in the published report, on pg 40 (careful: pdf):

...The exclusion of daycare costs from the list of needs using the budget standard approach is not because daycare is not a legitimate expense for households with children but mainly because many families with children will have little or no daycare costs...

Then, in the next paragraph, Professor Sarlo writes the following, on pg 41:

...For all couples with one child, the average spending on child care is about $1,800. (Statistics Canada, SHS, 2009; calculations by author)...


Leaving aside for the moment the 'calculations by author' notation (in the absence of any, you know, actual 'calculations), this second statement is something that peer reviewers in any field flag would flag as a major contradiction that would lead to concerns about the validity of a study's major finding.

Interestingly, Professor Sarlo then tries to wave away the contradiction with the following passage, also on pg 41:

...There certainly will be unavoidable child care costs for some families; however, it is preferred to add in a budgeted amount only for those families for which this is a relevant expense rather than impose the average on all families across-the-board...

As best I can figure it this bizarre final argument is based on other passages in the report wherein Professor Sarlo makes the case that families of means spend more on childcare than those who can't afford it. Thus, childcare is neither an expense for, nor is it required by, the latter group.


Perhaps Professor Sarlo should try that neat trick with nutritious food as well.


The point here is that, in my experience such major contradictions in a research study (which are sometimes called fatal flaws), invariably lead rigorous, arms-length peer reviewers to reject a study for publication. It is also my experience that truly independent editors of scholarly journals (i.e. not in-house directors of departments of the Institute publishing said study) agree with them.

The rigorous peer reviewers I mean.


Now, why might a think-tank with the motto "A free and prosperous world through choice, markets and responsibility" want to publish and wurlitzer such a study in the public prints and the electronic media?...Well the following is my opinion...If your ideological approach to prosperity is not working out quite as planned, and more and more families are starting to wonder if they will ever climb above the poverty line, why not just convince everyone concerned to move the line down so that everyone is suddenly prosperous, regardless whether or not they still need important stuff they cannot afford...Or, put another more direct and practical way...No childcare?...No problem!
The Exile takes a very hard look at this and comes to a slightly different, but not necessarily mutually exclusive, conclusion.



scotty on denman said...

Walker revealed the measure of his Fraser Institute when he opined that air (yes, the stuff we breathe) should be sold by the cubic centimetre. That would certainly be enough to make children living in poverty, the shameful superlative of which BC has owned for most of the last dozen years, gasp for dear life.

karen said...


The poor have no child care expenses?

If we all lived in cardboard boxes none of us would have rent or mortgages either. That would really bring the LICO down now, wouldn't it?!

Also, some time ago The Sixth Estate did an article on the in house directors at the Fraser Institute. At the time, some of the listed directors were dead, and had been for some time. I keep that piece of information in mind whenever I hear any of their trash.

Ps. I just read the Exile's post and I see that housing is indeed left out. (I don't know if I can stomach reading the report)

Grant G said...

Mr. K...You ask why..Why was the article written and media.nipulated.

You see, the bankers stole all the money in the world and $30 trillion dollars more, Governments broke, cities(Detroit and others) broke, worker pensions, underfunded, healthcare now unsustainable and must be slashed and privatized because of the influx of TEMPORARY babyboomers moving through, yet they unsustainable healthcare pundits never talk about how healthcare ramped up for volumes of seniors moving through will one day be ramped down, societies age, die off and younger populations emerge, such as India..

Now, worldwide unemployed is 30%..Job losses are everywhere, including up north.

We have mass temporary foreign workers, servitude workers, and we have the corporate sector saying, and they have been saying it for years...We will need millions of workers, we need trades, welders, labour, ..Yet there is zero proof that they do, as you know an LNG plant employs a mere 200 workers, a pipeline employs a couple only after built.

Industry wants to create a glut of labour/trade workers to drive down wages, for when there are line ups of unemployed welders, machinists etc etc..

When there is a glut of workers available wages will fall, wages are falling in RIGHT TO WORK STATES..imported workers.

In other words, the answer to question why is..

All part of the corporate profit driven ideology to slash workers, slash benefits, thus one needs to slash the cost of raising children, ...or should I say, future low paid slaves.

And if you check out Kootcoot`s last post, the highly profitable CP rail is slashing 4500 workers from their present workforce of 19,000..CP isn`t railing less goods, or operating fewer rail bridges or kilometers of track, they simply are optimizing and automating, and reducing inspections and the amount of employees on trains, similar to MM&A railway operating trains with one mere employee..

People better wake up before it is too late.


kootcoot said...

" At the time, some of the listed directors were dead, and had been for some time"

and the ones that ain't dead are brain dead.

I weep to think of the actual "real science" that didn't get done while you dissected this balderdash.

How come Harper isn't instructing the CRA to investigate these assholes' funding from foreign sources like the Kock Bros. etc - you don't have to answer, I know the answer, it was a rhetorical question.

Norm Farrell said...

If the Fraser Institute actually had peers or other living persons conducting reviews, someone might have said, "If we publish this paper, we'll damage our own credibility and look more foolish than usual."