Kids Are Not Insurance

Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket: 

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. 


5 thoughts on “Kids Are Not Insurance

  1. Funny thing. There seems to be near a 100% overlap between people worrying about falling fertility rates (and in Social Security lingo subseqent falls in worker-retiree ratios) and people who insist that immigration is some imminent threat to America. Which if I was naive to the point of imbecility would seem like a contradiction, after all historically immigrants have initially high levels of fertility compared to assimilated earlier generations and if there really is some worry about where we are going to find nursing home help for Boomers the answer is “Mexico, Central America and the Phillipines”.
    So why don’t these fertility freaker-outers abandon their objectively foolish objections to immigration if it all is just a number game?
    Well duh. It isn’t about numbers, it is all about perceived ‘American’ culture and the proper skin shading thereof. In the words of the mighty Senatorial candidate Thom Tillis “traditional Americans” vs rising numbers of “African Americans” and “immigrants”. These folks don’t want “Americans” having more babies, they want “Traditional Americans” having more babies. It just isn’t as open as the explicit Nativist platforms of the European neo-Fascist parties. More Wahs, less Blahs and Brahs.

  2. Ms FL would drop by regularly to visit the elderly woman that used to live next door to help her with her hair or getting dressed to go out and she would look at Ms FL with tears in her eyes and say “I wish you were my daughter”.
    There are no guarantees.

  3. It isn’t the social insurance that reduces fertility rates, it’s access to a reliable means of reducing fertility that does it. There are lots of countries with jiminy squat for a safety net, and, even those wretched hell holes, the fertility rate has been coming down.
    In other words, this argument is more gibbering nonsense. (In the 1920s, various US states proposed laws requiring children to take financial responsibility for their parents. Needless to say, none of these passed.)

    Pretty good little history on the topic.
    Another limitation of these plans was that they applied a “means test” against both the elderly person and any of his or her relatives before awarding benefits, to ensure that none of them was financially able to provide any help:
    “I should like to point out one very significant factor which differentiates the old age pensions in the United States from the systems prevailing in other countries, and that is the introduction of the ‘means test’ not only for the aged themselves but for their so-called responsible relatives… American pension legislation evidently assumes without argument that…support by children, is at least as desirable as, or perhaps preferable to, public support through old age pensions. It makes the violent assumption that wherever such support is found it represents a socially satisfactory answer to the problem of old age. It says little concerning the social cost that the imposition of this burden of support of the aged upon their children represents; it gives no consideration to the lowering of the standard of living of millions of families and their children. It assumes that the average wages today are sufficient not only for the maintenance of the worker and his wife and children, but even of ancestors.” (National Advisory Council, 1934)

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