Arnold Kling  

Adolescence Without a Curfew

Economics, Libertarianism, and... Inflation, Socialism, and Mora...

Michael Barone writes,

[A recent ballyhooed study of the phenomenon of extended adolescence] got me thinking about the much ballyhooed provision of the Obamacare bill that allows parents to include "children" up to age 26 in their family health insurance policies...

I think it's appalling, on several grounds: people aged 26 are not "children," ...and they should not be encouraged to remain dependent on parents for extended periods. In that spirit, let me suggest that the Obamacare bureaucrats, in order to hold down health care expenses, may have to set some terms and conditions for "children" aged 21 to 26 who remain on their parents' health insurance policies.

...they may be required to be home by 10:30 on weeknights and midnight on weekends. .. they may be required to do household chores including laundry, window washing, lawn mowing and cleaning out the garage.

This reminds me of a pet peeve I have concerning colleges and alcohol abuse. (I am not sure how lowering the legal drinking age would help--colleges for the most part prevent enforcement of the drinking age as it is). On the one hand, colleges generally protect students who abuse alcohol from being arrested or otherwise punished for vandalism and violence that results. In that sense, college students are treated as children not responsible for their actions. On the other hand, colleges do not impose curfews or consequences for students who abuse alcohol. In that sense, college students are treated as adults entitled to freedom from supervision.

As to health insurance, you know that my solution is real health insurance, not prepaid health plans. With real insurance, claims would only be made by people in the top 5 percent of health care expenses. As a result, twenty-somethings would face low premiums and most would be able to afford their own health insurance.

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COMMENTS (6 to date)
Ned Baker writes:

What college do you have in mind exactly? It sounds like a sweet deal. We had real consequences for underage drinking (i.e. the same penalties as non-students plus suspension/expulsion and banning the organization involved).

Although I'm totally on board with making health insurance actually be insurance, rather than just money laundering.

JMH writes:

If you lived in the dorms, there were penalties, but they were mostly minor unless it happened multiple times. Ideally, the students should be allowed to drink at 18, but punished just as severely as anyone else when they do something wrong. The problem is that the police were woefully understaffed to do anything beyond catch random party-goers. They had no real means to prevent any significant violence or vandalism (except riots, which conveniently they did have tear gas to stop) that would occur during a random night out. They could only stop things if they were reported and got their in time and students had the advantage there.

Drug use carried a much more significant penalty, but was also much harder to catch. People are always loud when they're drinking, but quieter when doing something when the penalty will get them kicked out.

Ted Craig writes:

There's an easy way to curb campus drinking - take away students' ability to schedule their classes. That four-year period is the only time one's life when you control your own schedule.

David writes:

The record will show that several weeks ago I commented on this web site (if memory serves, to one of Caplan's posts) that in exchange for raising the age children may remain on their parents' insurance plan we would revoke their right to vote and raise the drinking age to 26.

[ --Econlib Ed.]

Ted Craig writes:


I'd throw in the driving age, too.

ad nauseum writes:

It doesn't sound like their being treated like adults at all, but rather spoiled children that are given more power with little or no responsibility. There is also a relatively high dropout rate in college, and the students that fail are often not required to repay any tax payer funds they have received to finance their education (grants are given because people assume a student will graduate and give back more than they took).

As for the health care proposal in question, I'm not sure that it would add to my spoiled child point of view or not, since it depends solely on a decision that the parents would make. Each situation is unique, and parents are given a controlling hand.

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