If You Think Babies Are Expensive, Wait Until You Pay the Price of All the Missing Ones

How many news stories can be written to tell us that babies are expensive? Here’s a new one: “Report: Raising Today’s Child Tops $245K.” Naturally, it is based on a Federal Department that wants to remind us all of how expensive children are.

A child born in 2013 will cost a middle-income American family an average of $245,340 until he or she becomes an adult, with families living in the Northeast taking on a greater burden, according to a report out today. Those costs—food, housing, childcare, and education—rose 1.8% over the previous year, the Agriculture Department’s new “Expenditures on Children and Families” report said. As in the past, families in the urban Northeast will spend more than families in the urban South and rural parts of the US, or roughly $282,480. When adjusting for projected inflation, the report found that a child born last year could cost a middle-income family an average of about $304,480.

OK, what if we saw just as many government reports and just as many media articles telling us about our growing demographic winter? If you think the price of a child is high, it is nothing to what that child will be paying in an economy that is under-populated.

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In the first place, we basically have tied all retirements into an intergenerational pyramid scheme. With the ration of workers to aged constantly shifting toward the aged, how exactly are these people going to be supported by a dwindling number of producers. Most perversely, this financial pressure will provide an incentive to have even fewer children because it will be even harder to pay for them. People will be paying for their grandparents (and many others)  instead of having children.

Already, colleges are feeling the pressure of a dwindling number of potential students. The good news is that this will mean reduced prices.

One of the fundamental errors is to think that human beings are merely consumers and not producers. That is not true. Furthermore, we see in world history that a greater population has been associated with a higher standard of living, not a lower one.

Another fundamental error is to think that children have to be so expensive. Despite the discouraging headline, the news story ends (for those who read it all) with an admission:

Expenses per child decrease when a family has more children, the report found, as families with three or more children spend 22% less per child than families with two children. That’s because more children share bedrooms, clothing, and toys, and food can be purchased in larger, bulk quantities.

Well, if it can be done for the second child it can be done for the first by using Goodwill and other second hand stores. That’s how people who aren’t related share hand-me-downs with each other.

You ever notice that, in an era when people constantly claim the government should reduce people’s living expenses, that no one ever expects the government to reduce the cost of children or help people afford more of them? They will repeatedly tell us how expensive children are, but no one acts as if this is a problem that these rulers should address. It is always only up to us to start having fewer children.