Family is the economic driving force in a society

By Vincenzo Bassi – Lawyer, Barrister at the Supreme Court, PhD in Constitutional Law and European Constitutional Law – Adjunct professor in tax law, LUMSA, Rome – Vice- President of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe – FAFCE.

Today’s demographic challenges are having direct consequences on our economies and are at the heart of the debates ahead of the European elections in May. In that context, can we say that the family is the economic driving force in a society?

To try and find an answer to that question, it has to be established whether economic growth has priority over welfare, or vice versa.
In this regard, it should be distinguished between welfare policies, aimed directly at promoting living standards, and the ones aimed at promoting capabilities. The first category of policies – health and care services – addresses situations of immediate need while the second category – education and research – either prevents people from falling into poverty or allows them to escape from it.

Therefore, on one hand, companies play a crucial role within a society because they ensure economic growth by generating wealth and creating jobs.
But on the other hand, it can be argued that families play an even more pivotal rule within a group. Indeed, in addition to economic growth, families guarantee a sustainable and lasting future for the community itself.
Members of a family typically operate by providing services to each other rather than by conflicting among themselves. The more relations within a family are fraternal, the more benefits for the collective are generated. Indeed, services provided among family members are typically of a superior quality, so positive resources will be generated for the whole community.

Even though it is not possible to rely solely on families for economic development, it explains why sustainable economic growth requires assigning a pivotal role to families. In particular, a family producing services for its own benefit and its members, acts more than just as a consumption agent. Indeed, a family is also and above all an employer of resources – including through investments – to carry out its standard function. Thus, families have a non-casual economic function performed through organization, efficiency and professionalism.

Therefore, families, with their economic and productive function, can offer a significant contribution in the current recovery from the global financial crisis.How could this contribution actually be obtained? In the first place, it is necessary to enable families to capitalize on their investments (e.g. education, instruction, training, support) in a more equitable taxation system and in a more developed financial system for households (e.g. banks introducing microcredit projects specifically tailored for families). Increasing the purchasing power of households would stimulate investments to improve services provided to families (e.g. support for sickness, family care for the elderly and for children, etc.).

Moreover, a union of people is reliable for the economic system if its members believe in a common project for their future. A union is reliable – even for economic purposes – only if it is stable. A stable union, in turn, requires two key elements: (I) a project among members and (II) their public commitment, from which a legal relationship arises.

A family, as a stable communion of life between man and woman based on marriage, has all the consistency that the economic system needs. Crucially, a family is an expression of two people relying on each other and on their future life together. Their relationship is so strong that they are willing to be legally bound by taking reciprocal rights and obligations. Additionally, this bond is unique as it represents a generative union between two people opened to a new life, which goes beyond the spouses themselves.

For these reasons, the “Vote for the Family” manifesto that FAFCE Members are proposing to all the candidates to the European Elections (23-26 May 2019) goes beyond all political parties, even if it is legitimate and desirable for a policy-makers to have the desire to take care of the family. The family is not a branch but the trunk, and we are called to look at its beauty and goodness, at its profound generative reality. Website to know more about the manifesto: www.voteforfamily2019.eu

The Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE) was founded in 1997. It holds a participatory status with the Council of Europe and its General secretariat is based in Brussels. Its role is to bring the voice of families towards the institutions of the European Union and the Council of Europe, from the perspective of the social teaching of the Catholic Church.

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