Saturday, March 3, 2007

Children - Finance Style

The Simple Dollar is one of my favorite blogs. Check out this recent post where Mr. SD is discussing the potential costs of a 2nd child.

It reminded me of an article written in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks back by Terry Cullen (no link currently available, alas). She wrote about her (and her husband's) angst over whether to have a 2nd child.

Their final decision: Nope. Too pricey.

Which makes my Mom's decision all the more fascinating.

You see, Mom had 9 children. N-I-N-E.

For most of my siblings' lives, the house had 3 bedrooms, 1 full bath and was under 1,000 square feet.

Mom was a stay-at-home Mom.. but then again, in those days, the vast majority of Moms were. Dad was a working class stiff over at Ford, where he worked for 35 years or so until he got the gold watch and a (now hunted to extinction) pension.

Now, this is going to be a bit shocking for a finance blog...... but when exactly did having children become a matter of checking your personal balance sheet? Isn't there something creepy about considering children as economic liabilities?

Don't get me wrong. I have 4 kids (so far) and I know the stresses of worrying about how to provide. But is my stress greater than my parents', who had twice as many kids on an inflation-adjusted half or even a third of mine? And if that's the case, what can we say for those of us whose households make more than the median income ($46,000) or are in the top 25% ($72,000)?

It is a truism that the more affluent a culture gets, the fewer children it has. The 1st world cultural Population Bomb has imploded; instead of overpopulation, we now worry that we don't have enough youngsters to prop up Social Security.

And the # 1 reason given by 1st worlders for not having more children? "Too expensive" & its derivatives.

Given my own dear Mother as a data point, I find myself enormously skeptical of such claims. Counterpoints, anyone?

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