Editor’s Note: The CBCP reacted to this story on August 6, Monday, and published a piece on its CBCP for Life website. The piece is entitled, “Akerlof contradicted what?”
(UPDATED) MANILA, Philippines – Nobel Prize-winning economist George Akerlof contradicted the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) use of his research in a public statement opposing the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.
In the “Science Facts on the RH Bills in Plain Language” article on the CBCP for Life website, the CBCP states “Contraceptives bring about the downgrading of marriage, more extramarital sex, more fatherless children, more single mothers, according to the studies of Nobel laureate, George Akerlof.”
In a written response, Akerlof said, “In my opinion, giving women, whether single or married, the right to choose can only increase the dignity of marriage and its sanctity.”
Akerlof’s research concluded that America’s legalized abortion, as well as modern contraceptive technology, changed the American socio-sexual paradigm, as out-of-wedlock childbearing was now perceived as a woman’s choice, which relieved men of any social obligation to marry the women or support their children.
The research, conducted within an American cultural framework, is not generalizable to the culture of the Philippines, where abortion is still illegal and single mothers are common.
Akerlof had not previously known that his research, which was on American out-of-wedlock childbearing, was cited in the Philippines by opponents of the RH Bill.
Reacting to comments by Akerlof that his research was taken out of context in the CBCP for Life website, the CBCP denied claiming that Akerlof was against the RH bill.
In an article entitled, “Akerlof contradicted what?” posted on its website on August 6, the CBCP said a “cross-cultural study that could be done here using his framework” has rich prospects which could go to waste. And yet, the pro-RH lobby does not mind citing numerous foreign studies, it pointed out.
Furthermore, “In the US, the societal effects of reproductive technology shock are clear, as Akerlof himself had found. Yet, Akerlof – throwing out his reference to cultural differences – turns his back and thinks it’s good for the Philippines, because ‘contraceptives and abortion…make family life richer and more rewarding,’” the CBCP said.
“Does Akerlof, who says he’s for the RH bill, mean it’s okay to have reproductive technology shock in the Philippines?” the CBCP asked.
The rest of the CBCP piece can be accessed here.
Support for the RH bill
When asked about his stance on the RH bill, Akerlof wrote: “I support fully, and without qualification, the bill in the Philippines to promote, without bias, all effective natural and modern methods of family planning that are medically safe and legal.”
“Contraceptives and abortion, in my opinion, make family life richer and more rewarding because they reduce the number of unwanted children, which is bad for the family, and also bad for the children as well,” he added.
Akerlof is the Koshland Professor of Economics at the University of California-Berkeley, and a 2001 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Akerlof was moved to comment on the issue after being contacted for comment by a freelance journalist who noticed the CBCP’s citation of his research on their website. – Rappler.com
Tony Ahn runs Tony Ahn & Co., a Manila-based company which focuses on social media, digital marketing and reputation management.