What about the children?

Last week’s Senate report on same-sex marriage usefully summarises many of the arguments for and against.

Some of the arguments presented by gay marriage opponents concerned children. The Australian Christian Lobby put it this way:

It [gay marriage] discards the significance of marriage as an important social good held by a shared community as a public commitment to family and the raising of children.

But it really isn’t clear that the ACL’s position against gay marriage is consistent with their concern with children. The 2005 Private Lives survey found that 4% of gay men and 16% of lesbians currently live with children. So the ACL’s position seems to simultaneously that marriage is important as a public commitment to raising children and that the children who are going to be living in gay households anyway should be denied that public commitment.

One unexplored issue in the Senate report is whether gay marriage would substantially increase the number of children in gay households. Continue reading “What about the children?”

Should students specialise early or late?

The National Bureau of Economic Research has recently released an interesting paper on early subject specialisation at university (similar looking ungated papers here).

Author Ofer Malamud takes advantage of differences between English and Scottish higher education to examine an interesting natural experiment in early versus late specialisation. In England, students generally choose a specialised field of study on admission to university. In Scotland, however, they choose a specialisation after two years of more general subject choice. However, graduates of both university systems enter a common UK employment market.

Malamud finds that Scottish graduates are more likely to work in occupations related to their course specialisation than English graduates. He theorises that the Scots use their early years to discover their talents and interests, and therefore make better choices of specialisation. The English, by contrast, may complete the specialisation they started, but because some chose the wrong field they are more likey to look for work in other areas.

Though the findings are interesting, I don’t think there are any major public policy implications. Continue reading “Should students specialise early or late?”