Smithian Markets: Got Breast Milk?

Tyler Cowen often does the “Markets in Everything” segment and lately I have been finding some myself so I am going to start calling them  “Smithian Markets.” This is because a lot what Adam Smith showed was even with stuff in the way, like government people still found ways to get around them and exchange goods. Not to mention the invisible hand is taking these rare markets and allocating them interestingly and efficiently.

For those who have been overly distracted by the latest financial market bailout, there has been a milk crisis in China. Here is from the Times Online:

“The Health Ministry said the number of children ill after being fed milk powder tainted with the industrial chemical melamine had soared to 12,892 from a previous total of 6,244. Many of those have already been treated and have left hospital. More than 80 percent of the sick were toddlers under two.”

No one really knows why it happened, but it has. All I can say is that this is a communist country with heavy regulations. The market that has been created is the selling of breast milk.

This information is from the Wall Street Journal.They are called Nai Ma or “wet nurse.” This is when a woman feeds her own breast milk to someone else’s child. Tina Huang, who produces more milk than her baby needs, says “It’s a pity that I waste my breast milk when I see on TV so many kids with no milk to drink because of the contaminated powder.”

Her old job paid just $146 dollars a month and she earns 12 times that now. There has also been a social back lash because people are treating it as prostitution. Since most people are poor that sell their milk, this is looked down upon. Some people even consider it exploitation but if you ask me I’ll be exploited for 12 times my current wage.


Published in: on September 29, 2008 at 5:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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