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Save the American economy. Have a baby. Make it three.
The Week ^ | June 23, 2014 | James Pethokoukis

Posted on 06/23/2014 9:38:07 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

I know it sounds creepy to suggest that Uncle Sam ought to bribe women to have more babies. It has the whiff of something that chest-baring ultra-nationalist Vladimir Putin would do. More future patriots from Russian mothers for Mother Russia!

Most Americans would probably say nosy technocrats have no business trying to engineer some socially desirable family size, either bigger or smaller. And they would be right.

But what if Washington has already inadvertently instituted its own version of China's awful one-child policy? After all, American families are having fewer children than they want. Surveys show a steady, four-decade preference for 2.6 kids. But today's actual number is something more like 2.0.

Why the gap? Parents point to pocketbook issues. 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.

This is not just a problem that parents should care about. America's childless ought to care a lot about the "kid gap." 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. The Obama White House has stated that real GDP growth in the 21st century "is likely to be permanently slower... due to a decline in the growth of the working age population." An older society, noted the late Nobel laureate economist Gary Becker, is less dynamic, creative, and entrepreneurial.

Thomas Piketty argues in his best-selling Capital in the Twenty-First Century that higher fertility would reduce inequality by increasing economic growth and dispersing the wealth of the rich among more descendants. And for now, at least, bigger families would boost housing demand and near-term economic growth.

Unfortunately, increasing the birth rate is hard. You really have to incentivize it.

Just ask Putin. Since 2006, the Russian government has been paying women about $10,000 for having a second and third child. Russian women are indeed having more kids, though the slight rebound began before Putin's natalist push, and also comes after birthrates plummeted during the post-Soviet era's economic chaos.

A study analyzing a 1990s Canadian program that paid up to $8,000 (Canadian dollars) to families having a child found a "strong effect" on fertility. Indeed, some American conservatives are suggesting a sharp expansion in the child tax credit to help offset how government currently distorts parental choice. Another idea is to reduce payroll taxes for middle-class families by a third for each kid they have until the child turns 18.

Now, trying to nudge women to have more kids than they want is both a fool's errand and unseemly. But trying to make it easier to for parents to have the number of kids they do want — and produce the next generation of workers, taxpayers, and entrepreneurs — by lowering government hurdles is just what U.S. economy and American families need to flourish in the long run.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: demographics; economy; family

1 posted on 06/23/2014 9:38:07 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Depends on who is making the babies.

If making babies was all that it took, South America would be rich.

2 posted on 06/23/2014 9:42:38 PM PDT by freerepublicchat
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

The best social security is what the bible calls “turning the hearts of the fathers to the sons and the hearts of the sons to the fathers.” Of course that goes for both genders and also for some voluntary intergenerational charity.


3 posted on 06/23/2014 9:43:52 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: freerepublicchat

People all with a personal God, that is the key.


4 posted on 06/23/2014 9:44:26 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: freerepublicchat

“If making babies was all that it took, South America would be rich. “

Good point. Maybe this NR buffoon should ask himself why Obama’s childrens’ crusade is flooding the border.


5 posted on 06/23/2014 9:48:29 PM PDT by Pelham (California, what happens when you won't deport illegals)
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To: Pelham

bump


6 posted on 06/23/2014 9:49:55 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: freerepublicchat
Uncle Sam ought to provide some financial incentives for families to produce a booming new generation of workers, taxpayers, and entrepreneurs

This idiot author never heard of the Child Tax Credit? Free schools? and crap

7 posted on 06/23/2014 9:51:40 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Did my part, ten.


8 posted on 06/23/2014 9:52:24 PM PDT by HMS Surprise (Chris Christie can STILL go straight to hell.)
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To: HMS Surprise

Today, if you DID have more than two you’d need to buy a bus, just to haul the car seats.


9 posted on 06/23/2014 9:57:10 PM PDT by RW_Whacko
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Whoever believes that a free market economy requires an ever-expanding population in order to succeed agrees with the liberals and commies that the free market is a Ponzi scheme.

The free market should work regardless of the population size and the population growth or decrease if it is indeed the most efficient way to match buyers and sellers.

Either this guy is a closet commie or else capitalism is as Chesterton claimed, just the flip-side of the materialist coin. The other side being socialism.

10 posted on 06/23/2014 9:57:18 PM PDT by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: who_would_fardels_bear

Population does play a part in technology advancement and economies of scale. A world of only a few million people would never have the economic foundation to develop and produce a digital computer, for instance.


11 posted on 06/23/2014 10:01:13 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: GeronL

We have a long way to go before the population gets down to a few million people, or even before the youth population goes below one billion.


12 posted on 06/23/2014 10:14:57 PM PDT by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: GeronL; who_would_fardels_bear

To have babies, raise families in middle class America people need good, long term secure jobs, affordable medical benefits, (Ya know how much it cost to have one baby without good insurance?) They need homes to raise them in, etc, etc....

Young folks in Middle America has none of that


13 posted on 06/23/2014 10:21:29 PM PDT by dragnet2 (Diversion and evasion are tools of deceit)
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To: dragnet2

Very true - and people need something which is disappearing - security of employment, especially for adult men. How can one take on a long-term commitment if one’s job and income are always provisional and short-term? It is no accident that the years of the baby boom were the golden age of paid employment and job security.


14 posted on 06/23/2014 10:29:23 PM PDT by BlackVeil ('The past is never dead. It's not even past.' William Faulkner)
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To: BlackVeil

BUMP

This government has created an economic environment that makes it nearly impossible for many to get gainfully employed while punishing those who do and subsidizing the ones who are lazy.


15 posted on 06/23/2014 10:31:28 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: BlackVeil

Yep....It’s not very complex as to why young folks are not having babies, raising families etc.

We figured this out 10+ years ago...


16 posted on 06/23/2014 10:33:47 PM PDT by dragnet2 (Diversion and evasion are tools of deceit)
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To: Tax-chick; All
kid ping! Ma'am (w proper respect :)

17 posted on 06/23/2014 11:15:20 PM PDT by skinkinthegrass (The end move in politics is always to pick up a weapon...0'Jihadist/"Rustler" Reid? d8-)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Maybe they could try this.
18 posted on 06/24/2014 12:14:09 AM PDT by Squawk 8888 (I'd give up chocolate but I'm no quitter)
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To: skinkinthegrass

Saving the economy never crossed my mind.

By God’s design, I have the capacity to have children, under the proper conditions (good health, a healthy spouse). To say God made me wrong would be disrespectful to Him and degrading to me.


19 posted on 06/24/2014 2:50:13 AM PDT by Tax-chick ("Cynicism is a far greater spiritual danger than naivete." ~ Stephen Webb)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

...because 28 million unemployed just ain’t enough.


20 posted on 06/24/2014 3:21:12 AM PDT by Justa
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To: who_would_fardels_bear

“We have a long way to go before the population gets down to a few million people, or even before the youth population goes below one billion.”

Here in the US we pay the welfare class (which is swollen by illegals) to breed, while the most productive don’t. It is the only reason the Kenyan Pirate was elected twice; those choices have consequences.


21 posted on 06/24/2014 4:03:50 AM PDT by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic warfare against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: dragnet2

“To have babies, raise families in middle class America people need good, long term secure jobs, affordable medical benefits, (Ya know how much it cost to have one baby without good insurance?) They need homes to raise them in, etc, etc...Young folks in Middle America has none of that”

There is a direct correlation between the lack of new middle-class families and the housing stagnation; who is going to commit to 30 years of mortgage payments for a house in which they can raise dogs?


22 posted on 06/24/2014 4:05:52 AM PDT by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic warfare against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: Tax-chick
By God’s design, I have the capacity to have
children, under the proper conditions
*BLESS YOU!*...

23 posted on 06/24/2014 5:53:09 AM PDT by skinkinthegrass (The end move in politics is always to pick up a weapon...0'Jihadist/"Rustler" Reid? d8-)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I wonder why anyone aware of the massive, detrimental social and governmental changes in this country would want to bring children into this society. I certainly wouldn’t.


24 posted on 06/24/2014 6:05:18 AM PDT by OldPossum ("It's" is the contraction of "it" and "is"; think about ITS implications.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

“Unfortunately, increasing the birth rate is hard. You really have to incentivize it.”

The government doesn’t seem to care about having more American babies. It incentivizes foreign born babies.


25 posted on 06/24/2014 6:06:55 AM PDT by odawg
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
The USA pays every female with a second grade education who is also void of any parenting skills to open her legs to varied baby daddies and create future nonworking welfare generations.

So far this hasn't worked for us IMO.

Meanwhile if you are not government supported and want more kids you find it maybe to costly to afford more kids in this current big government world.

26 posted on 06/24/2014 6:11:42 AM PDT by A CA Guy ( God Bless America, God Bless and keep safe our fighting men and women.)
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To: Pelham; freerepublicchat
"Good Point"

All the stats from the 20th century into the 21st show that falling birth/fertility rates are accompanied by rising income, falling poverty, better health, longer life spans, and better education, including women.

So if you look at the CIA Factbook table on national fertility rates, which is arranged in descending order, the nations at the top with the high fertility rates are the most destitute. And nations like Bangladesh who have experienced a rapid decline in fertility rates over the recent decades have made remarkable advances in quality of life.

Currently there are 7 billion on the earth with 1 billion in the Americas, 1 billion in Europe and Russia, 1 billion in Africa, and 4 billion in Asia.

Projections show that by 2050 Asia will add a 5th billion and Africa a 2nd billion for a 9 billion total.

By 2100, Africa will add a 3rd and 4th billion for 11 billion total, after which it levels off.

27 posted on 06/24/2014 8:10:56 AM PDT by Ben Ficklin
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To: skinkinthegrass

Thank you!


28 posted on 06/24/2014 8:45:23 AM PDT by Tax-chick (I had another dream about the lions at the door. Told 'em not to science those burgers too hard.)
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To: who_would_fardels_bear
There are two ways to grow the economy, increase output, or GDP.

Increase worker productivity, usually by capital investment. Or, increase population which increases both producers and consumers.

In recent years the US population growth rate has fallen slightly because of the recession but in recent decades it has been about 0.9% per year.

We achieve this with the birth rate plus immigration rate minus the death rate. Without immigration, we would have a negative population growth rate.

Canada has had a similar population growth rate but they have had a lower birth rate and higher immigration rate than the US.

29 posted on 06/24/2014 9:02:39 AM PDT by Ben Ficklin
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To: Ben Ficklin
Why do we have to grow the economy?

Why can't we just have a stable economy where over time better products and services replace lesser quality products and services? Why do we have to have more?

The concern for the future shouldn't be about the absolute number of consumers and producers, but the mix.

Certainly if over time the vast majority of humans are over 70 then that could present some interesting problems.

But if the world were to top out at 8 billion people and stay there for a thousand years, and if the free market is indeed the best form of economy, then it should be able to adjust.

The leftist critique of capitalism and free markets is that they necessarily need to grow or die, i.e. they are Ponzi schemes. The odd thing to me is that most supporters of the free market use the same language as their critics, but they just turn logic on its head. They claim that free markets lead to growth in markets and isn't that always and everywhere a good thing?

The simple answer is 'No'. Economic growth is not always a good thing. Yes, if we knew that we would be able to put significant people on the Moon, Mars, Titan, etc. Or if we knew we could manage 100 billion people on Earth alone, which seems a bit preposterous.

But what if at some point in the future every culture decides that two kids or fewer per family is enough? And what if it turns out it's too damned expensive to send more than a few people to live on the Moon or Mars? Then we're stuck at somewhere between 8 and 12 billion consumers/producers for centuries to come.

If free markets can't handle that situation, then something better needs to be developed. Personally I think free markets can handle a static population. I believe that many of the people who think they are making good arguments in favor of free markets that depend on growth are actually making weaker arguments than they can.

30 posted on 06/24/2014 9:39:15 AM PDT by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: who_would_fardels_bear
"Why do we have to grow the economy?"

Growth is a relatively new.

Thru all the centuries and millennia, going back to the dawn of civilization, there wasn't much growth, or growth was very small.

It was the industrial revolution that put mankind on the exponential growth curve. The steam engine and the internal combustion engine and the fossil fuel to power them. The first oil wells were in 1860 to produce kerosene for home lighting. The IC engine was invented and put in horseless carriages and about a 100 years ago autos were mass produced.

As I pointed out in #27 population is supposed to peak at 11 billion in 2100, but who knows for sure.


31 posted on 06/24/2014 11:50:00 AM PDT by Ben Ficklin
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To: dragnet2
To have babies, raise families in middle class America people need good, long term secure jobs, affordable medical benefits,

And courts that don't play the role of women's "hired muscle."

32 posted on 06/24/2014 12:00:38 PM PDT by papertyger (if disdain of homosexual behavior is "bigotry," is it any wonder hostility to Islam is "racism?")
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To: RW_Whacko
TPTB have made having children a very real obstacle in life....

like someone said...the cars....they don't make those long station wagons where the 3 youngest could curl up in the back flat area with blankets and pillows...

and airlines, and restaurants, and hotels, and lots of freepers just don't want kids around....

and yet having children would be a big boost for this country...

33 posted on 06/24/2014 11:33:04 PM PDT by cherry
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