Who Should Have Children? If You have to ask . . .
April 10, 2008, at Economist’s View former Angry Bear writer Noni Mausa had this to say . . .
Take the time. Watch this, I just did. It explains exactly why the middle class is in trouble and where the money has gone.
Over on Angry Bear we were discussing who can afford children, in this post: “Who Should Have Children? Or, If You Have To Ask, You Can’t Afford Them“
Me again: Our Middle Class is still in trouble. The jobs have shifted overseas. Younger people have trouble gaining an adequate education without going deeply in debt One hundred thousand dollars for 4 years at at good college is not out of the question. It is still a two-income family to get by. Think for a minute, we are talking about the Middle Class. What about those who are not Middle Class?
Maybe listen to Elizabeth Warren’s talk on the Middle Class (2007) and then read the post Noni wrote. Unfortunately, the comments are gone. Sorry on that.
Noni: I presented this question because many contributors to this and other blogs have said the poor shouldn’t have children if they can’t afford them. My question was, how much is enough? and offered these possible criteria:
1. A household income greater than the poverty line for that size of family.
2. In addition, income above that level sufficient to buy health insurance for that size of family.
3. Income dedicated to a life insurance policy for the family breadwinners.
4. Savings sufficient to pay all ordinary expenses for at least a year, including maintenance of the health insurance, in case of illness or job loss.
5. In addition, factor in a savings account strictly for the post secondary education of each child in the family.
It emerged that these modest requirements amounted to something over the median US income, plus all that dedicated savings. At this level childrearing was tricky, but probably doable.
I had privately thought that our conclusion — that half of American families couldn’t afford to raise children — was a bit extreme. Turns out from Dr. Warren’s numbers, I may have been correct. I would far rather have been disproved.
Of course reality is just the opposite. The highest birth rate is for households under $10K/yr and the lowest birth rate is for households over $200k/yr. See bar chart of 2017 birth rate to household income at the link below.
Birth rate in the United States in 2017, by household income
The politics of desperation. The whip that drives the system as we know it, desperation: fear of homelessness, fear of failure. And a by design barely functional education system churning out automatons just capable of doing as instructed without questioning why.
It brings a little pleasure into their lives …
When I consider the list of 5 criteria I can’t help noticing how many of them involve private saving needed in the US to mitigate safety net programs provided in most other western countries. Prospective parents a few hours drive north of me in southern Vermont can basically skip concern 2 and most if not all of 4 and 5 thanks to the Canadian social insurance programs.
And of course things are only getting worse here. Other countries routinely pay a cash stipend to every parent supporting a child. We tried that here via the CTC and even tried expanding it which was fairly popular and quite effective. Democrats filled headlines with stories about the expanded CTC cutting child poverty in half etc. Then it disappeared because reasons.
42 % of US maternity care is provided by Medicaid.
Perhaps a more appropriate question would be why would anybody choose to have children in the US? It’s a place where our national priorities include bringing back schoolchildren’s lunch debts. Coming in December to a school near you.
this article is more about how to afford children than whether to have them. it does suggest that America as an economy is failing. Some of the expenses cited should be met by “government” , that is the decision of the peole to organize systems that provide for needs beyond the ability of individuals to secure … medical care, retirement, basic education. To the extent that we already have these things, they are made collectively unafordable by collusion between private interests and government. So it’s not so much a question of welfare as it is a question control of our basic needs by ourselves as opposed to special interests with agendas opposed to people providing for their own needs through collective action. Note this is a little different than “government”….but it would take a lot of talking to make you understand the difference. Note also that it turns the usual government vs private enterprise on its head.
i would go further and suggest that the “need” for post-secondary education is probably artifically stimulated. to the extent it is real it also needs to be underwritten by [somehing like] government to make it honest and effective and not just another marketing scheme (scam?).
and yes, we are encountering a massive effort…been going on for some time… to return “the people” to a condition of serfdom by, not surprisingly, not by the “socialists” but by the people yelling about the socialism leading to serfdom.
But, again, because of who controls “the government,” that also is a danger.
as for having children, that is generally a good idea, but Darwin in heaven has arranged things so that we don’t need to think about it.
well, on rereading, i see that even without typos I have managed to write something completely incomprehensible. something to think about.
I don’t understand the part about Darwin, but the rest of your statement makes quite a few good points.
“Some of the expenses cited should be met by “government” , that is the decision of the people to organize systems that provide for needs beyond the ability of individuals to secure …” . That is a very important point and a great explanation and justification of many government functions and programs.
“So it’s not so much a question of welfare as it is a question control of our basic needs by ourselves as opposed to special interests with agendas opposed to people providing for their own needs through collective action. ” There are in fact ‘special interests opposed to people providing for themselves through collective action because those ‘special interests’ can profit from the current system, when they would not be able to from a public system. Like private health insurers. Or those who want to privatize Social Security because their brokerage firms would profit from that.
And I agree that the ‘need’ for post-secondary education is often artificially stimulated. It does seem that many job openings often require not always necessary educational credentials.
And your line about who is yelling about returning the people to serfdom is very pertinent.
I thought it was a very good comment.
Thanks, Now I have to deal with a swelled head
thanks Jerry. the line about Darwin was meant to remind us that he creatively designed us not to be able to say no. we are going to have babies no matter what anybody says.
the war against social security is not necessarily about brokerage profits. I don’t think the enemies of SS even know what they have against it. But “hating socialism” has worked for them for a long time. I don’t think it’s even hating socialism as much as it is hating poor people. They are afraid of us. They are afraid that if we get too smart will start to think we can do without them.
It’s long been my contention DNA is a creature beyond our comprehension, with a life and seemingly a mind of its own … it just decides “these two people are going tom have a kid …”
I have had that exact thought myself from time to time.
I presume you are referring to mine?
In my family, our kids have decided not to have any of their own.
I take this to mean they don’t believe there’s much of a ‘good’ future ahead.
I can respect this, and still be sad about it, of course.
In my extended family, Mrs Fred’s brother, twice married, never had any kids.
My sister, OTOH, had three children, who among them have had 8 kids so far.
So that suggests the population will at least be holding steady going forward.
Population in the US grew 1 tenth of 1%
No idea if there is anything behind this or if it is pure anecdata. I have one set of first cousins on each side. Highest level of parental education is PhD on both cousin sides and BA for my parents. Average kids/family = 4. All married. Next generation average kids if PhD parent = 1.25. If BA parent = 2.5. The marriage partners parents do not change the educational background.
it’s clear that having kids makes you dumb. at least that’s what my kids tell me.
Dumb without a doubt, but too bad that is does not also make one deaf and blind.
The Who-Pinball Wizard
Hey all, I just stumbled over this reprint. Been a long time since 2008, right?
There’s one thing I’d like to clarify: my resources list was not intended to price out child rearing, much less depict the actual costs of poor folks raising kids.
Rather, the list was intended to lay out the level of income security necessary to keep right wingers from scolding couples who “shouldn’t have had children if they couldn’t blah blah blah.” Those scolds never actually laid out the criteria for “affording children,” so I thought I would.
Not that I think any amount of logical analysis will silence those scolds. But hey.
The environment has changed since 2008, the same as it changed from 1998. I am not sure if we can accurately depict what is necessary for security. By all intents, I had little security in employment. I even worked out of state and country to maintain our family.
logical analysis is always fun and sometimes helpful.
i suspect the people you are referring to use their logic to help them devise the best ways to fool people. it seems to work for them
… if they in fact like what they are doing. sometimes i have my doubts.
Too Have And Too Old
The bride, white of hair, is stooped over her cane
Her faltering footsteps need guiding.
While down the church aisle, with wan toothless smile,
The groom in a wheelchair comes riding.
And who is this elderly couple you ask?
You’ll find, when you’ve closely explored it,
That here is that rare, most conservative pair,
Who waited ‘til they could afford it.