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Why People Aren’t Having Kids

I tend to agree with Glenn Reynolds that it’s pretty much economics. For me, the economics are being quite late settling down, and no longer having the spare income to save for a kid’s college fund. Looking back, I’m kind of amazed by parents managed to raise two kids, a dog, and a cat, on a single income. My dad worked, and my mother was a stay at home mom. Given my current difficulty maintaining a childless household with a single income, I don’t honestly know how they did it. But when it comes to the benefits of parenting:

He’s clearly right about the economics. Children used to provide cheap labor, and retirement security, all in one. Now they’re pretty much all cost and no return, from a financial perspective.

My parents were believers in the cheap labor part. I think I had more to do as a kid, than kids growing up today. Not all of it was hard labor, but it sometimes it was dangerous by today’s standard. As a fairly young kid, under 13 for sure, I was out crawling around on our roof and scaffolding, helping my mom and dad put vinyl siding on the house. There was always a project in the works. I would often use power tools, though there were some I could not use without supervision, and some I could not use at all (and the ones I couldn’t use at all, I own now. Take that Dad!). As a fifteen year old, I was called on to rewire some outlets in my grandmother’s house. I could do that on my own by that age.

These days I’m pretty sure if you had your 11 or 12 year old kid crawling around on a roof or scaffolding doing manual labor, or working with electrical circuits, if they didn’t come after you for child abuse, the neighbors would certainly frown on you as a horrible parent. I hated having to help out as a kid, but now that I own my own home, it’s saved me a tremendous amount of money, because there’s not much I don’t know how to do in a house. Furnace stops working at 3AM? Thermocouple? Have a spare of those. Leaking auto vent? Keep them on hand too. Power head on the zone valve? Can get it in 24 hours from Amazon Prime. I will also never be one of these kids you see on the side of the road, with a roadside assistance guy changing their flat tire for them. There is a pride in not being dependent on someone else for every little thing that goes wrong in life. Which brings me back to Prof. Reynolds:

But in recent decades, a collection of parenting “experts” and safety-fascist types have extinguished some of the benefits while raising the costs, to the point where what’s amazing isn’t that people are having fewer kids, but that people are having kids at all.

It has crossed my mind that the the kind of expectations that existed for me are looked down upon these days as bad parenting. I agree with Glenn that society has made parenting seem unattractive. For us, it’s pretty much economic. Bitter being a the better part of a decade younger than me gives us a little more time. If our household economy turns around, maybe. As for the other problems? Well, I can’t get up on ladders anymore, and kids generally love that kind of thing, “So get up there boy, and clean out those gutters. I don’t care how much what’s in there is gross!”

But hey, if I decide to complete the transformation into my own father, the kid will get a sip of my beer when it’s all done (which he’ll promptly wince at). (Don’t worry Dad, I’m sure there’s a statute of limitations on that kind of thing).

31 Responses to “Why People Aren’t Having Kids”

  1. Harold says:

    “Children used to provide … retirement security….”

    They still do, in theory. People who ignore the lessons of history, like my parents, are making 100% bets on the competence and good will of the government. E.g. that their money will actually be worth something when working is out of the question, that the government will have enough money to give them generic good health care instead of “attenuated” (to cite Rahm’s brother’s writings on this, or, hell, Obama came right out and said pain medication (which the Federal government is making ever harder to get—my new doctor won’t prescribe it except for the short term), BTW), is often the best “treatment”), etc. Note that with the birth rate falling, especially of likely seriously productive citizens, the economics of the welfare state become even worse.

    He Who Shall Not Be Named (since some people have nothing better to do than to go off topic and castigate him for unrelated things) says that the worst aspect of the welfare state is that it sunders the bonds between generations. Parents don’t have to earn enough affection from their kids for retirement, for the state will take care of them (one way or another, when you count inflation). Children, who pay heavy FICA taxes when they can least afford it, can say they’ve paid into the system and owe little or nothing to their parents. Not that there are necessarily enough of them or they’re wealthy enough anyway.

    One does wonder what Team Obama are thinking as they keep the spending accelerator floored, speeding up the day we “run out of other people’s money” (Thatcher: “The problem with socialism is that someday you…”).

  2. Dannytheman says:

    Got approved on a new house in September, wide advised me that she was pregnant in October. Starting that next May we were single income household with one kid. I worked 2 jobs and wife worked tax season nights when her mother could sit the kid. Then we had another because an only child just ain’t right. Again kept 2 jobs, worked 7 days a week for 4 years. We made it, we skimped and cut coupons and ate stews and soups.
    When my oldest turned 13, we had 2 more. All boys. I made a better living and the hard work started to pay off. Wife got back to school, nights and weekends, got her CPA. The 2nd- 2 kids are living better than the first. The older ones say it all the time.
    Like you I climbed the roof, drove the tractor at 8, cut hedges with electric trimmer and in our house I was the plumber. I could solder pipe and fix a toilet at 12. Replaced my first at 16. My kids will call a plumber. (Or me)
    All I have to say to you is excuses, excuses, excuses. You will always have them. The children experience is all about love and creating a child out of that love. Go for it, rarely is it regretted. You will make do.

    • Bitter says:

      Your descriptions of what the kids call you to do (or call a plumber to do) got me thinking through what Sebastian was writing about a little more. To what degree has the increasing complexity of our products made some of these common “chores” both a) less common because products function better than before and/or b) are more complex than they were at the time because of more/new components that may require true specialization?

      Typically, we pick up skills by repeating the actions frequently. But many products today just don’t stop working as often as they might have before, so there’s simply less opportunity to build that casual knowledge.

      • Will says:

        Bitter:
        one factor that you are missing here is that in the children’s schools, the idea of working with your hands is very much looked down on, as being some sort of lower class endevour. Children absorb this sort of idiocy because it is never countered, in school or home. The parents unwittingly push this mode of thinking by automatically steering kids toward college, which is no longer a guarantee of financial success, in part due to the huge number of kids doing it.

        The only real change in complexity that I see is where electronics are added to a regular product. The problem then becomes troubleshooting to figure out if mechanical or electronic.

        The downside to this is that due to CAD/CAM system use by engineers/designers, there is no longer the built-in over-design “fudge factor” that normally was part of any product. As a consequence, things are much more likely to fail during “normal, everyday” use. In essence, things are much more delicate than they used to be.
        An example: in the early 00’s, I drove a CHP tow truck. They patrol during commute hours on freeways. I would encounter broken ball-joints on a regular basis. That is a catastrophic failure of the suspension, and leaves the vehicle dead right there. Difficult to even tow the thing at that point. When I worked in the auto repair field in the 70’s (and my father was in it all his life, from ’44), a failed BJ was unheard of. They wore out, but didn’t break. I vaguely recall reading about one in those days, in a national magazine.

        One of the unintended consequences of not having children play/work with real stuff, is that they have no reference points when they encounter things in the real world when they “grow up”. This is part of why “common sense” seems to be vanishing these days. The things you learn as a kid are the building blocks for future learning and experience. The less they do while growing up, the dumber they act as adults. Then they raise even more stupid kids. Book smart, and reality stupid. Really bad mix.

        • Harold says:

          While I mostly agree with the above, I have to fix this one for you:

          The downside to this is that due to CAD/CAM system abuse….

          Boeing, for example, uses it ever more and their planes aren’t falling out of the sky, rather, air travel is getting ever more safer.

          In your example, it’s car engineers, who have very different incentives, cutting the margins too close, probably trusting simulations too much … and not having good enough data. I can dig up an article on how Ford got utterly serious about getting the latter after too many incidents like the Explorer/Firestone tire disaster.

          And California, you say; no salt on the roads, right?

          • Will says:

            Harold:

            Yep, SF/San Jose Bay Area. No salt, no corrosion to speak of here. But, my reference areas were DELCO PA, Cape May Co NJ, (Wildwood), and Ft Lauderdale FL. LOTS of corrosion. Quite a shock when I found old cars without it here.

            The BJs were on vehicles less than ten years old. Some near new, cars and SUV’s. As I recall, the common failure mode was the pin shearing from the ball. Some pulled the ball out of the socket, though.

            • Harold says:

              Yeah, it’s quite an amazing difference I’ve heard. I grew up in SW Missouri where we do use salt, but seldom have to, but when I was living in Massachusetts in the ’80s I had a friend who grew up in New Jersey who loved circa 1970 Detroit muscle cars. He and 3 friends flew to California, where they bought 4 rust free ones and and drove them back home.

              Now, I’ll note he’s extremely mechanically and electrically inclined, the sort of guy who designed his own MOSIS chip and kept in his ugrad/grad student office a scrounged milling machine, lathe, etc. The sort who used the latter to turn his wedding bands out of stainless steel, or repaired our CDC 9762 80 MB SMD hard disk’s power transistors by popping off their tops and re resoldering the broken contact. So he could and most certainly did maintain them himself.

          • Sebastian says:

            I tend to agree. It’s definitely possible to engineer reliable cars. My parents had a 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger, and that car left us stranded, even though the body was pretty solid. After that we had a 1982 Datsun 210 Hatchback. Great car, but it was in an accident, and eventually had rust problems. After that we had a 1984 Buick we had to replace an engine block on, and was otherwise pretty much a lemon. My dad eventually got a used 720, which I eventually inherited, sort of defacto, and to which the gas tank had pretty much rusted off by 1990 when I started being the primary driver. It later met an unfortunate demise in a collision from the rear.

            My cars today I’ve hardly had to do anything to, and in my entire adulthood, I’ve only needed a tow for mechanical failure once, and that was due to a partial rectifier failure on my alternator, that I decided to keep keep driving until I could find time to get it fixed. I take that as my fault. But I remember as a kid once having to be rescued from the Gerard Point Bridge because of a broken down car, and getting screwed by the Buick more than a few times.

        • Sebastian says:

          As a consequence, things are much more likely to fail during “normal, everyday” use

          I don’t find this to be the case. I think most of the normal, every day things are far more reliable than they used to be. I remember adults under the hood when I was a kid. I helped changed a water pump on an old Ford Truck of my Uncle’s. I remember radiator hoses bursting on one of my parents’ cars, and watching my Uncle changing them out. I did some light body work to deal with rust on my first truck. Those kinds of things I have not even remotely had to deal with on my modern vehicles. We’ve definitely made cars more complicated, because they are all electronically controlled, but modern electronics are faithfully reliable compared to anything mechanical. Everything else on cars has become so reliable, I kind of understand why a lot of kids today might have no idea what a water pump even is.

        • JMD says:

          “One of the unintended consequences of not having children play/work with real stuff, is that they have no reference points when they encounter things in the real world when they “grow up”. This is part of why “common sense” seems to be vanishing these days.”

          I studied mechanical engineering in college and worked as an assistant in the student machine shop for about two years (a very valuable experience in my opinion). One thing I shall never forget is the shop supervisor showing a student how to do something with the lathe. He asked the student to hand him a wrench and the kid had no idea which tool was a wrench.

          Two years away from starting a career as a mechanical engineer, and he had no knowledge of basic hand tools.

      • Will says:

        Lost focus there. Let me try again.

        Home maintenance is not much different. If you can fix an old house, you can fix a new one.
        Big appliances are still fixable, but if it is small enough to carry, forget about it. If out of warrantee, throw it away. If you are skilled in electronics, it may be worth taking a look at, but otherwise it will cost more to repair than replace. Even if you can do the work yourself, getting the custom parts it may need may be impossible.
        Maintenance on vehicles is pretty much the same. Oils, filters, wheels/tires, etc, haven’t changed much, just the details, really. Some engines and transmissions have design flaws that limit their life expectancy, but overall the reliability has improved quite a bit since I got my DL in the late 60’s.

        Troubleshooting electronic problems on vehicles is much more of a hassle.
        Electrical problems on vehicles has always been a big deal because most mechanics hated dealing with it, as it wasn’t taught much, just sort of a learn as you go environment. Since problems weren’t typically common, mechanics never got skilled at it. Very few specialized at it. Now that there are electronic modules everywhere on a vehicle, training has improved somewhat. However, there still seems to be a division between the mechanical and electrical areas. I suspect part of the problem is that people attracted to mechanical objects have brain wiring that makes understanding the electrical/electronic world difficult and frustrating. And the way it is traditionally taught in school is a big part of this learning discrepancy. (Once again, fingers can be pointed at teachers and schools)

        drat, I don’t seem able to write short posts…

      • Sebastian says:

        There has been relatively little innovation in the basics of home heating or cooling in the past 40 years or so. Most of that has been in burner efficiency; essentially getting more energy into the house from less unit of gas burned. The engineering has changed a good deal, but the fundamentals of supporting it are unchanged. A baseboard heating system today still has a “boiler”, a circulator, a gas valve, burner, thermocouple, auto vent, zone valves, radiator keys, etc, the same as it did in the 1960s.

        • Alien says:

          “There has been relatively little innovation in the basics of home heating or cooling in the past 40 years or so.”

          I’ll partially agree with that; I recently upgraded (replaced?) part of my heating system. The almost new house I bought last year has a heat pump. Owned several houses with heat pumps, they work, reliable technology, etc. I had a contractor replace the air handler/backup heat (electric resistance) assembly with a natural gas unit to create a dual-fuel system. That required I pay the local utility to run a gas line from across the street, but that was relatively cheap ($350 tap fee).

          The reason was I wanted: a) cheaper backup heat; b)a second, independent source of BTUs. Got both, pretty much. The new air furnace/air handler runs on 120 volts @ 15 amps, as opposed to the 240 volts @ 60 amps the resistance heat and old blower motor required. That means I can easily run my gas heat with a 120 volt 2000 watt generator should an ice storm cut off my electricity.

          But…before it went in I looked at the PC boards the unit required to manage a 96% efficient condensing gas furnace. In past years there would be relays and mechanical switches, and I cut my teeth on those. No more, it’s all solid state. I selected a contractor who not only has well trained techs with the right diag tools but also keeps a couple of those boards in stock for my model furnace, and elected to do some re-wiring on my own.

          It cost well over a grand, but the furnace now gets its 120 volts through a good sized UPS. Why? It’s to my advantage to provide filtering against voltage spikes that can damage those boards so I don’t have to call the techs. Keeping the furnace running for 8-12 minutes when the power goes out is a bonus, but not the reason I added the UPS. I’ll still have to crank up the generator, but at least I’m pretty sure the gas furnace will work when I do.

          So I’ll agree the basic heating concept hasn’t changed much: burn something that generates BTUs, distribute those BTUs through the house with air or water. The details of how that is accomplished, however, have changed quite a bit.

      • Dannytheman says:

        Honestly, things are easier today. Electrical stuff is all color coded and more idiot proof than yesteryear. Plumbing is simpler with flex pipe and PVC. Glue versus solder copper pipe.
        Changing out the insides of a toilet is cake, and even setting a new toilet only requires time and big hunk of beeswax.

        My oldest tackles things pretty good in his new house.
        What I did notice in new houses is that fishing new pipe or wire is MUCH tougher as everyone walls are now filled with foam and insulation. Need to be creative in new homes or have PVC pipes in walls with chase lines for suture expansion.

        My buddy years ago spent a fortune on running cat 5 wire in his new home of 2001. He missed the wireless wifi future.

        Oh well, go make a baby!!

  3. Dannytheman says:

    What happened to the edit?? The word wide above should be WIFE. And if mine sees that mistake I will be sleeping in the garage.(Which is kinda cool now.)

  4. charles in charge says:

    I like kids. But man do I hate parents. My friends with kids insist that I need to have them too so I can be as miserable as they are. All they do is drive their kids around to various activities that all cost money, or go to really lame school related events (that cost money). I shoot matches and do martial arts and lift weights and go to restaurants and shop and drive nice cars (my wife +1, except she has nice clothes and purses on top of it all). Why the hell would I want kids? The wife’s biology is starting to kick in a bit from time to time, let’s not have kids just yet focus on your career, I must distract here with some sort of bauble…

    My elementary school nieces were shocked to learn I was allowed to ride my bigwheel around my block unsupervised at 5, as long as I did not cross the street. Kids roamed yard to yard freely. These days in our neighborhood, a 5 year old out alone on his bigwheel would result in the parents going to jail. Funny thing is in the 70s the crime rate was something like double what it is now…

  5. Stephen says:

    Why do we have kids? It’s a question you can’t really imagine an answer to (as a male) until you do. Then you can’t imagine life without kids, and wouldn’t go back for anything in the world.

    Nobody but the very rich can “afford” children, and yet everyone who does figures out a way to not only have children but thrive. And again — well worth it.

    I feel sorry for people who give up family for what they perceive to be a good career choice (it’s not, having a family will keep driving you on in your career) or because they are just plain lazy. Very, very few who choose that road don’t find plenty of opportunity to regret that later on in life.

    By as many baubles for your wife as you want, but they won’t come and visit when you’re old and homebound.

    • JMD says:

      Right on. Last night I was scanning some old family stories from my grandpa and his siblings into pdf’s, and skimming them as I went. Even 80 years ago+ having children didn’t give my relatives a financial advantage. My great grandpa worked in a coal mine. His kids couldn’t help there. They were so poor there wasn’t enough milk for everyone and they had to eat their corn flakes with water most days. But they still had 8 (I think) children.

      My grandpa worked 3 jobs at one point so that his children could all take music lessons in addition to providing them with the essentials. He worked as a machinist mostly. At no point in his life would he have ever been considered wealthy. But he made it work. His children never went hungry and we continue to be blessed by his sacrifice as his daughter – my mother – teaches my daughter how to play the violin.

  6. Will says:

    It looks like cost is a huge factor. Having just one working parent is way more difficult today.
    There was an article in the Readers Digest some unremembered years ago, detailing the tax impact on the family starting around 1950. IIRC, a family with children paid essentially no income tax due to exemptions for kids, in addition to the low rates then. By the 60’s, the burden got high enough that it was no longer unusual to have the wife work some sort of part-time job. And it continued to get worse as time passed. Much worse.
    Most of this was due to Dem social type programs (actually Progressives), which as a result has damaged the family structure in this country. Hardest hit was the Black community, which has nearly disintegrated.
    One of the unintended results of their programs (which can be seen in all Western countries) is a reduced birthrate. This is one of the pillars that has been kicked out from under the socialist societies, and is the one that seems to be a built-in bug. It can’t be fixed under normal circumstances, which is one of the driving forces for our “open borders” idiocy. They desperately need increasing numbers of warm bodies to prop up their failing regimes.
    The birthrate bug seems as though it will severely restrict the longevity of any socialist nation. It’s not the only factor in play, but it appears to be an integral one. I expect none of the current Westernized nations to exist by 2050, as we currently see them. I suspect that a map of political divisions at that time will show lots of smaller entities, as the big players break up into smaller nation-states to more closely match the ideals of the inhabitants. More than a few wars will be the genesis of this, I think.

    • asdf says:

      I’m going to go ahead and shout you down as a racist for saying all that. :)

      • Will says:

        Funny thing is, I’m probably the least racist person I’ve run into in my 60 yrs. I much prefer to dislike individuals for the way they act. Might be due to my Asperger’s. Just the facts, please! :)

  7. Andy B. says:

    I recall an article in my alumni magazine many years ago, about a professor who did a study that found that efforts to “teach” birth control to the peasant classes in India were futile, because the people were, statistically speaking, having exactly the number of children they intended to.

    Cultural lore was that parents needed to have four adult sons to insure their security in their old age, and the study found that people had children until they had four male children of an age that they were likely to live to adulthood. If they’d had no girls along the way, or a dozen girls, as soon as they had four almost adult males, it was then that they stopped having children. Few or none of the children along the way were “accidents.”

  8. I think it is priorities really. A lot of people could afford to have kids and do it on one income they just aren’t willing to do what it takes. Everyone has to have the latest smart phone with a data plan, drive 2 new cars, have 500 cable channels and all the premiums and all that and wonder why they spend all their money. If people were willing to drive an old beater, do with a cheap and basic cell phone (that didn’t do data) and drop the cable, plus cook at home instead of going out to eat, or doing take out all the time you could free up a ton of cash. (Not saying that you don’t do those things, more saying people in general).

    That being said I am having kids I have 2 so far, plan on having 2 more, and we are doing it on one income cause we don’t want our children raised by daycare. It isn’t easy and sacrifices must be made but it is totally worth it. I am also fortunate to make a very good income so that does make it that we don’t have to make as hard of choices as some families would have to make to do it, but it is still doable by the middle class if you are willing to live a little more like your parents did (keep the things you get longer and fix them rather than toss them, and do more for yourself like you say).

    • DevsAdvocate says:

      That’s the thing though: why? I am young, a professional, have a nice home, a few girlfriends, but I see no need to settle down and have kids. They’re expensive! From the birth to their college education, taking care of them opens you up to every shyster looking to rip you off. Student loans, healthcare costs, insurance. Blah!

      No point in even opening a college account for the kids… by the time they go to school, college will cost $1B and they’ll be stuck paying for it with some shit job that doesn’t pay enough. I’ll be lucky to be able to retire and live off that.

      I mean, I’d like to have kids, but right now, there isn’t much incentive in it.

  9. Bryan S. says:

    I contribute a lot to people replacing kids with “stuff”. Many think “stuff” and hobbies are more important, and arent willing to sacrifice to pass their ideals and genes onto the next generation.

    We are going to end up like Japan is now. a lot of old people, unable to care for themselves, and a bunch of young people, who couldnt take care of a pet rock.

    • Will says:

      Bryan,
      it’s not just Japan. All of Europe is like that. Germany closed down some towns due to lack of enough residents to keep the lights on. The US is just behind the EU by a generation, pretty much. Only thing making us look good here is illegal immigrants with their high birthrate. Socialism will kill ALL the Western nations. We’re toast, which means the world is going to see another downturn. Question is how fast will it happen, how far will it slide back, and how long before it gets turned around. The big problem I see is the tech today is not very robust. You can’t build microchips in your home garage, and our electrical grid is a disaster waiting to happen. It won’t be hard to have a cascade of national and international problems that could instigate it.

      • Harold says:

        I’d add to your history that we had a very good run of venture and other method funded high tech companies from the ’50s when the laws were changed to allow and promote this model to the early ’00s when SarBox was the final nail in the coffin of this business model. As I ask, who’s going to develop the next FPGA?

        There are a lot of software web service companies starting up and running with great success, because all the barriers to entry are or have gotten so low, but they never end up employing very many people and they aren’t transformative in that old way (they often are in new ways, and greater efficiency is not to be sneezed at … although that often also equals lower employment through various forms of disintermediation).

        Not that companies exist to employ a lot of people, just that we’ve in a host of ways discouraged the employment of people, our previous smaller company engine of both economic and employment growth is terribly broken, especially in high tech.

        I strongly urge reading or skimming that link to David “Spengler” Goldman’s article on “Small US companies pose profit-less riddle“, e.g.:

        The picture is even uglier for the 680 or so traded technology companies. For every Apple, there are dozens of money-losing middle-market and start-up firms.

        Apart from the top tier, tech companies as a sector are money pits. The long tail on the left reflects enormous losses on investments for the majority of smaller companies, whose average ROI is a negative 15%.

        A shocking change for someone who entered the job market in 1980 and worked at many startups through the ’90s.

  10. JMD says:

    I’ve never looked for economic benefits to having children. I certainly want to be sure I can provide for them, but I’ve never expected having kids to “pay off” financially. I’ve always seen other, more rewarding benefits to having children.

    When I was 19, I left home to spend two years in France and Belgium as a missionary. During that time, I visited a lot of lonely old ladies. For the most part they were widows or long ago divorced. Most of them had no more than one or two children – who typically lived a good distance away. The government took care of their physical needs. They had kerosene for the heater, food in their cupboards, and state-sponsored medical care (and pills – EVERYONE had a drawer full of pills).

    What they didn’t have was companionship. It wasn’t uncommon for our visit to be the only one they received in a week. Many of these women would sit in a dank, old apartment all week and just read or watch TV, too old to get out much and without any family to come check on them.

    I compare this to the experience of my own grandparents who, combined, had twelve children and I don’t even know how many grandchildren. My grandma had Alzheimer’s disease for the last 8 or so years of her life. She never spent a day in a nursing home. She had enough children that they were able to take care of her every day of her life for nearly a decade. My wife’s grandparents receive so many visits from family members that it’s sometimes difficult to find a time to come see them when we’re in town.

    Times are tight for us financially now. We live on a single income, which hasn’t risen substantially in several years. Our costs keep going up. But we still have two children and are preparing to bring more into the world because we know that are and will continue to be a blessing to us throughout our lives.

  11. Children are a very serious commitment. If you aren’t sure you want children — trust me, there will be many times that you will regret the decision to have them.

    I am glad that we had kids, even though it was not on the agenda when my wife and I married. But we had some neighbors with a kid when we moved to northern California, and suddenly, my wife decided that kids were a good idea. I wasn’t wild on the idea, but there is nothing like coming home at the end of the day and having your three year old running down the driveway yelling, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!”

    Something to remember: the future belongs to those who reproduce. And Idiocracy is not science fiction; it is a documentary.

  12. Harold says:

    HT the Instapundit: the total tax rate is more like 40%:

    Taking into account all taxes on earnings and consumer spending—including federal, state and local income taxes, Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes, excise taxes, and state and local sales taxes—Edward Prescott has shown (especially in the Quarterly Review of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, 2004) that the U.S. average marginal effective tax rate is around 40%. This means that if the average worker earns $100 from additional output, he will be able to consume only an additional $60.

    Echoing him, note that’s for the average taxpayer, not “the 1%”. I note that the American experience tells us that’s a high enough marginal rate to discourage additional taxable work; the article, if you can read it (try changing the referer to Google) provides historical examples in e.g. post-WWII Europe. I’ll also note I saw my parents change their economic behavior for the better for others after Reagan’s tax rate cuts.

    Hmmm, my parents are of the Silent Generation (between the “Greatest” and their children the cultural Baby Boomers). Both grew up on farms, my mother entirely, she’s Cajun, Catholic, and from a big family of 9 or so. They however planned on only 3 kids, the last in 1966 before things got really crazy and bad.

  13. Alpheus says:

    I’m always annoyed by the studies that proclaim how expensive it is to raise a kid, but ignore factors such as: having multiple kids cuts the cost somewhat, as you can reuse a lot of the stuff you have acquired; for that matter, knowing others who have kids–both relatives and friends–can also cut down on costs, as you share things among each other.

    Furthermore, if you dig down into those studies, you discover that the “cost” is an average: people with more money spend more on their kids, while those who spend less, make do in all sorts of ways. Trying to say that kids cost $X per lifetime is rather silly!

    Indeed, it’s even the case that where you live has a significant effect on how much you spend. I decided to stop looking for work in Palo Alto, California, for example, because we could expect to rent a 3-bedroom apartment in Orem or Provo, Utah, for around $750 to $900 a month, and get a good-sized yard in the process; while in the Palo Alto area, cheap apartments seemed to go for $2400! (That’s $2400, rather than $2400 factorial, although when you’ve spent several years at about $800/month rent, it almost feels like a factorial difference.) It was such a difference in cost of living, I did not feel confident in trying to move there, because I had the feeling that I could be offered what seemed like a huge salary to me, but would barely cover cost of living, and I *still* would have to pay for student loans, because now I’m suddenly “rich”!

    As it is, I found a new job in Orem, and it pays a bit more than I was earning before (enough so, that I’ll probably be making payments on student loans now), but I have a clear understanding of where I am financially, as well. That, and I don’t have to pay taxes to a failing state, or deal with that state’s nannyism on things like homeschooling. :-)

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