Conventional consumer equivalence scales measure the cost of children (and other household living arrangements) but not their benefits. Since many people choose to have children, these costs must be outweighed by other benefits. This paper considers these issues of demographic choice and explores the relevance of consumer equivalence scales to the broader welfare questions associated with tax/transfer policies and poverty and inequality measurement. The paper concludes that in contrast to conventional methods of measuring poverty and inequality, there is a case for the use of different equivalence scales for adults and children in the same household. Though the adults may have chosen their lower living standard in exchange for the “joys of parenthood”, the children have made no such choice.
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