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Lifeboat ethics versus corporate ethics - social and demographic implications of stem and joint families

  • Das Gupta, Monica

The author distinguishes the lifeboat ethic of Northern Europe's stem family system from the corporate ethic of North India's joint family system, which has much in common with that of China. She contrasts these family systems to show how norms of residence and inheritance: a) Profoundly influence our values and social constructs. b) Shape patterns of conflict and cooperation between people, thus influencing many basic aspects of social organization and behavior. c) Influence health outcomes by categorizing people according to whether their health is promoted or allowed to fail. d) Shape a wide range of other development outcomes, including migration, strategies of household resource management, ways of exploiting commercial opportunities, and the operation of civil society. The author develops a number of hypotheses about the nature of these relationships. Some of these are substantiated quantitatively, and others can be tested empirically.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2127.

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Date of creation: 31 May 1999
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2127
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  1. Das Gupta, Monica, 1987. "Informal Security Mechanisms and Population Retention in Rural India," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 101-20, October.
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