My sense today is that we are slowly moving towards a build-your-own-marriage system, in which there is no universal concept of what is a marriage.
A: Marriage in crisis as women gain economic independence; growing normality of premarital, and extramarital, sexual relationships; divorce commonplace in a culture in which the pursuit of personal happiness trumps societal expectations; warnings from social commenters that 50 years hence there will be no such thing as marriage.
Such was the social state of society when UBC first opened its doors 100 years ago.
As an institution, the nature of marriage is endogenous to the economic environment in which we live, but the nature of marriage is slow to evolve in response to economic changes such as the increasing importance of education and the resulting movement of women into the workforce.
I fully plan to transport myself 100 years into the future, albeit one day at a time, and when that time arrives I predict that the class of 2115 will need to be taught the same lesson as the class of 2015; that despite what they have been told, the concept of "traditional" marriage is pure mythology.
My sense today is that we are slowly moving towards a build-your-own-marriage system, in which there is no universal concept of what is a marriage. This is bound to have unforeseen economic outcomes, particularly in terms of the distribution of household incomes and wealth; not everyone will benefit from this system. I can envisage future me researching how to mitigate this harm while still respecting the individual’s right to choose the nature of their own relationships.
A: I have one aspiration for the influence of my work, and that is to encourage the next generation of economists to be braver than the current generation. We have so many good tools at our disposal, and yet most economists are reluctant to apply their lens to areas traditionally considered outside the purview of the profession. There is no reason why we should not use economic analysis to understand the decisions made in the more intimate areas of our lives.
Any discipline that cares about the wellbeing of people should care deeply about how we structure our relationships; that structure goes to the very core of who we are as individuals, as families, and as a society.