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Breastfeeding is rarely seen as an economic policy issue. Many view the idea of placing a dollar value on mothers’ milk as repugnant. Breastfeeding cannot be framed as simply an economic relationship. It is a complex, physiological, emotional and social relationship between mother and child, intricately related to the nature of the society, community and family in which they live. Furthermore, the ‘costs’ and ‘benefits’ of breastfeeding fall both on individuals and on society as a whole. Yet in a world where not valuing something in dollar terms means it is not valued at all, this economic invisibility can have major consequences for the ‘market’ for mother’s milk, for infant and maternal health and wellbeing, and for appropriate public policy.
Smith, J., J. Galtry and L. Salmon (2014). Confronting the formula feeding epidemic in a new era of trade and investment liberalisation. Journal of Australian Political Economy 73: 132-171.