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Question

Which of the following alternative explanations of the change in the cash value of children would be most likely to be put forward by sociological economists as they are described in the passage?
  1. The cash value of children rose during the nineteenth century because compulsory education laws reduced the supply, and thus raised the costs, of available child labor.
  2. The cash value of children rose during the nineteenth century because of changes in the way negligence law assessed damages in accidental-death cases.
  3. The cash value of children rose during the nineteenth century because their expected earnings over the course of a lifetime increased greatly.
  4. The cash value of children rose during the nineteenth century because parents began to increase their emotional investment in the upbringing of their children.


Solution

The correct option is C The cash value of children rose during the nineteenth century because their expected earnings over the course of a lifetime increased greatly.
B is the most suitable answer.

In stressing the cultural determinants of a child’s worth, Zelizer takes issue with practitioners of the new “sociological economics,” who have analyzed such traditionally sociological topics as crime, marriage, education, and health solely in terms of their economic determinants. Allowing only a small role for cultural forces in the form of individual “preferences,” these sociologists tend to view all human behaviors as directed primarily by the principle of maximizing economic gain. Zelizer is highly critical of this approach, and emphasizes instead the opposite phenomenon: the power of social values to transform price. As children became more valuable in emotional terms, she argues, their “exchange” or “surrender” value on the market, that is, the conversion of their intangible worth into cash terms, became much greater.

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