chapter  4
330 Pages

Children in the Household Economy

ByGlen H. Elder

The roles that children assumed in the economy of deprived families are an integral aspect of adaptive strategies. This applies to girls in particular, since most household tasks are traditional aspects of the homemaker's role. More than any other social attribute of the family, number of children has direct consequences for labor and economic needs in the household. As the number of children increases, household operations must expand, caretaking and parenting become more demanding and less available for each child, and financial resources per member are reduced. A common folk belief in rearing children defines household tasks and jobs as a valuable apprenticeship for the realities of adult life. Apart from family need and values, wisdom in spending and saving money is dependent on practical experience with financial matters. Children from deprived families and the working class were most likely to be described as adult-oriented, as were those who held jobs.