14 / CHRONICLESnwelfare policies have made traditional family life almostnimpossible. As late as 1965, 75 percent of Swedish mothersnwith small children were full-time homemakers; today, 90npercent of them are in the labor force. Sweden’s marriagenrate fell over 50 percent between 1966 and 1973. Thenproportion of cohabitating, unmarried couples did rise fromn1 percent in 1960 to nearly 30 percent today. But if wencombine divorce rate and the break-up rate of cohabitatingncouples, Sweden’s overall rate of “couple dissolution” — annice modernist phrase—rushes past that of the UnitednStates. Sweden has the lowest average household size in thenworld today: 2.2 persons, and falling. Indeed, living alone isnbecoming the new Swedish norm. In inner-city Stockholm,n63 percent of all households consist of single persons, antrend sustained by state housing plans. In short, Sweden isnbecoming a society of solitary individuals, independent ofnmeaningful family ties, who exist in a dependent relationshipnwith the state. This is, of course, the fulfillment of thatntwo-century-old statist vision of man, alone and naked, atnthe feet of a gentle Leviathan.nThe same process is well-advanced in our own country.nTrue, the ideology is harder to pin down, the progressionnslower and more confused; but the results are the same. OurnCensus Bureau, with its wonderful sense of language, callsnthe process “the rise of the primary individual.” Betweenn1790 and 1960, there was no basic change in the familialnnature of the United States. Average household size did fall,nbut for all 170 years, the proportion of households containingnfive or more persons was much larger than the proportionnof one-person households. Since 1960, though, thenproportion of households with only one inhabitant hasnclimbed from 10 percent to 25 percent, while the proportionnof homes with five or more persons has fallen by half, fromn22 percent to 11 percent. While young men and oldnwomen are overrepresented, a rising number of “primarynindividuals” are found in all age and gender categories. Andnthe trend shows no sign of slowing. The result, again, is anderacinated population of free individuals, alone before thenstate.nThe second consequence of the new welfarism is thenprogressive feminization of the state. I do not mean this innsome literary sense: the degree of feminization can bendetermined by a nosecount of employees and beneficiaries.nThe new welfare state is woman’s domain. The growth innstate employment since 1960 has been overwhelminglynfemale. Today, 70 percent of nonmilitary governmental jobsnin Sweden are held by women; in Ontario’s Ministry ofnCommunity and Social Services, the same 70 percent figurenholds.nWomen, too, are the main beneficiaries of the newnwelfare state’s largesse: cash and benefits flow primarily tonthose over age 65 and single persons raising children. Thenformer group is roughly two-thirds female; the latter group,nexclusively so. With the assurance of state support for annaccidental or intentional child, women have gained, inneffect, a new kind of husband: one loveless but symbiotic,none generous to its many brides but occasionally cruel as itnexercises its power to take away the children “for their ownngood.” As feminist theorist Frances Fox Piven explains, “thenstate is turning out to be the main recourse of women,” thenonly alternative to “patriarchal dominion.”nnnPerhaps the progression from the communitarian welfarenstate to the new welfare state was not inevitable. Apart fromnthe problem of historical determinism, one can point tonwelfare states where residues of nationalism or religion havenretarded the shift: Bavaria, Belgium, and France. Patriarchy,nmeanwhile, maintains its sway over the Swiss welfare state.nOn the other hand, innate pressures toward the shift arenstrong. To begin with, the very intent of the welfarenstate — whatever its gloss — is to make public what was oncenprivate. When the welfare state turns its attention to thenfamily, this inevitably means influence over human reproductionnand control over the redistribution of money fromnthe working to the nonworking population. The implicitnassumption of the first welfare state was that the family nonlonger did either of these tasks well and needed help. Thenassumption of the new welfare state is that the family shouldnnot do them at all. Both views, though, see the family as thenproblem and the state as the solution.nSecond, the very actions of the state disrupt family life. Toncreate a state benefit relieves persons of the need to findnprivate, family-centered, or voluntary solutions to the problemnat hand. At the more physical level, state actions such asnslum clearance have destroyed authentic, if sometimesndegraded, communities and replaced them with socialnhousing too small to contain or control the young or to carenfor the elderly.nThird, the welfare state is afflicted by a demographicncontradiction. In traditional, family-centered societies,nyoung or middle-aged adults have moral and legal responsibilitiesnto support their own parents and bear children, partlynas insurance for their own declining years. Yet the communitariannwelfare state severs these bonds and transfersnintergenerational care to the state. Indeed, in this new order,nthe value of children is reversed: they become expensivenitems of consumption for the Yuppies — and would-benYuppies—who would rather let other people bear and rearnthe children who will later pay for their retirement. A newninternational study confirms that any increase in statenold-age benefits results in fewer births, and fewer birthsnmean even larger Social Security benefits, without anynapparent stopping point. No manner of child benefits, ofnwhatever size, seems able to reverse this linkage.nFourth, the equality principle cannot be easily contained:nthe pursuit of “economic” equality easily slips into areasnmore closely bound to family dynamics. Feminist writers arenquite right to be amused by the contradictory goals ofnpolitical conservatism: the simultaneous pledges to “preserventhe integrity of the American family” and to “expandnand protect the rights and equal opportunities ofnindividuals.” These goals, quite simply, work at crossnpurposes. There was once, of course, a rival school ofnthought which said that market forces would interact withncultural heritage and innate human sentiments to produce anrelatively decent and humane society. This was the socialnmessage of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, but for them itnwas more a leap of faith than a matter of objective evidence.nIn our time, though, new hybrid disciplines have begun tonoffer empirical data in support of these claims. The so-calledn”new home economics” (often identified with Gary Becker)ntestifies to the economic logic of the traditional familynresting on a gender-based division of labor. To defend then