When asked by Gallup why they aren't having more kids, 65 percent of respondents mentioned "not having enough money or the cost of raising a child." Another 11 percent blamed the state of the economy or the paucity of jobs in the U.S. You can at least partially blame government for that, at least to the extent that bad policy slows economic growth and makes education and health care less affordable.
But there is another way government may hinder family formation. Considerable academic research suggests social insurance programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, reduce fertility rates in advanced economies. Thanks to these government-funded safety nets, parents have less incentive to produce kids to care for them in old age.
Which, as that's a WILDLY INEFFECTIVE PLAN FOR YOUR RETIREMENT, is a good thing. Growing your own help may have been how we did it in ye olden days, but honestly, it was never all that smart. You can't guarantee your kids will want to take care of you in your old age, or that they'll be able to, either. My grandma predated the Greatest Generation slightly, and at her nursing home I could count on one hand the people who saw their kids more than once a year.
Far better that people plan to handle their decrepitude in other ways; I tell Kick that she is welcome to visit my Jamaican hammock where I plan to drink myself quite pleasurably to death should I hit 80 and be alone.
Washington should care about the nation's fertility rate the same way it cares about the nation's productivity and labor-force participation rates. Low fertility rates are associated with diminished economic growth. Fewer kids mean fewer tax-paying workers to support public pension programs.
Which is still not a good reason to create more human beings. "You owe it to the Reich" is not a convincing argument. These are people, not numbers, and they will get ear infections and teethe and refuse to nap, and anyway they're not obligated to do anything for you that you can't do yourself. America could carelessly support all the public pension programs in the country for what we pissed away each week in Iraq and Afghanistan, so let's not burden the drooling, cooing inhabitants of our country's cradles with that job.