2006-10-23

The Economic Burden of Reproduction in a Wealthy Society

This article in the LA Times laments the fact that families and children place a difficult burden on most families. It concludes:
Forming a family and having kids is the most personal of decisions. Yet it's a decision that has profound benefits for society as a whole. Americans do need to make the right choices for their families. But they shouldn't have to choose between economic security and getting married and having kids.
Oh YES they should! The increased cost of having children in a wealthy society is the only thing keeping population in those societies at bay. It is arguably the best reason to support economic development in poor nations.

If a ravaged planet and Malthusian population crash is what you seek, then the socialistic reproductive subsidies suggested by the normally sensible Mark Toma are policies you should seek. It is far more sensible to strive for the population growth rate of China, Europe, or even the US than that of India for economic, humanitarian, and environmental reasons.

Toma is correct in calling for more educational subsidies, but for the average prospective parent, any new subsidies should be offset by additional taxes or penalties to having more children.

7 comments:

Diana Chavlah said...

Wow pace,
you are qute a poster now! Have to check your blog every day instead overy other day from now on :))

Joey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Legend said...

Increasing costs associated with raising children may contribute to population decline, but a decline is not always economically desired. In Japan's case, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is encouraging policies to stimulate economic growth, hoping they will result in an increased birth rate. He recently noted, "Without economic growth, we will be unable to take effective measures to reverse the trend of fewer children and reconstruct government finances."

Dr. Fareed Zakaria recently commented on the growing expectation among observers that Japan's 1.25 per woman birth rate will lead to slower economic growth, the collapse of pension systems, and a rise in immigration and social tensions.

Pace said...

legend,
You are surely correct with those you quote that low birthrates can be sources of instability. Immigration is necessary for a country that maintains such a low birthrate. However such costs must be weighed against the environmental costs associated with continued expansion of the population. Japan is one of the largest polluters per capita in the world, although it does not complare with the USA.

1.25 is unusually low and incentives to stablilise the Japanese population rate are practical. It is further population growth that must be avoided and for a rich country to have a stable population with immigration is even better.

Pace said...

Declining population usually implies declining economy, but GDP per capita is a more important measure.

Diana Chavlah said...

Building a family is an investment that most people want, with or without help from society. And since the population rate is uneven between the countries and the continents, I hope and I think it will be necessary to import labour from, for instance China, to Europe.

The problem is the racism. People simply don't want to mix up with other people. Japan has for instance lack of labour but they'd probably rather have robots working for them instead of importing labour. That's why I've only meet a few foreighners here, all of them working or studying for a limitid time.

Pace said...

I agree, Diana. Racism is a very big problem in Japan and to a lesser extent in the US and Europe. This is illustrated by the success of the extreme droit across Europe. While George W. Bush may be a war criminal and a tyrant, the one thing I would have given him credit for was the lip service he gave to supporting immigration. However, today he lost even that small credibility.