The Falling Fertility Rate and Happiness.

Children have been seen as the route to happiness.  Maybe that never was true.

Until relatively recently, children were what economists call  “producer goods”. Children produced more value for their parents than they consumed.

In the past, rural couples needed them to work and provide for old age.  The more children, the higher the standard of living.

When families left the farm, and children could no longer work in factories, children became consumer goods.  Now, they consume more than they earn.  They have to compete with other consumer goods.

One thing that seems to have changed in the last few decades is the increase in unavoidable costs.  These are costs of raising children that might have been picked up by the taxpayer a generation ago, Internet, phones and extra training or lessons.

These costs are not, of course, discussed outside the family when contemplating the number of children.  It is impossible people don’t know about them and take them into account.

The U. S. fertility rate is so low it is almost the same level as China’s where there is a government policy of one child.  We did it voluntarily.  When people no longer believe more children give them more happiness they find a way to limit the number of children, regardless of church pronouncements.

It’s not guaranteed small subsidies to parents will increase fertility. If we want more children,  it may take very large subsidies.

Ironically, the religious right, which opposes abortion and birth control, refuses to try it.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323375204578270053387770718.html

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
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15 Responses to The Falling Fertility Rate and Happiness.

  1. .e says:

    o

    Wrote:

    I copied this from the comments in the article you link cuz i agree with him and its quicker!

    Jim LeMuir

    The “trouble” with children…

    They can have a negative impact on “ME” time: partying, working out, hanging with friends, sleeping around, bar hopping, shopping, etc… Kids can impact career advancement. They cost money to keep around. And according to some they are even a threat to the sustainability of the planet.

    Since Americans seem to be focused on pleasing self, children have become a stigma. Unless you are same sex couple. Then having an adopted child is a badge of honor… at least until the novelty wears off.

    Having more than one child, has become a social “crime”.

    One solution is simply kill the children before they are born. If they manage to survive until after birth, many have pushed for the government to become their primary provider. After all the government can employ child care experts to look after these unwanted nuisances. “Parents” have become nothing more than biological donors that help to bring the child into existence.

    Of course there was a time in this nation when children were considered a blessing, a gift from God. Dad and Mom found joy in watching their little ones grow and reach new milestones. Fulfillment, hope, and peace came from shared sacrifice and share achievement. Love meant laying down your life for one another and not simply a 30 minute encounter to feed the all consuming lust for self-gratification.

  2. Stanta says:

    Then why do people spend thousands of their own dollars at fertility clinics. AND it seems we wouldn’t have to kill 1,000,000 a year if fertility is DOWN.

  3. Stanta says:

    “they find a way to limit the number of children” call it what it is…..abortion.

  4. Michael Ross says:

    ” When people no longer believe more children give them more happiness they find a way to limit the number of children, regardless of church pronouncements.”

    If you can’t feed’m don’t breed’m. But once we got’m don’t kill’m.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      .e 2:43 No one knows how the public will react to things that come along, but I would think if a couple knew the government would pay for health care, day care and education of their children, they would be more likely to have more of them. What I’m certain of is when more and more of the cost is on themselves, it not only reduces their standard of living, but introduces huge economic uncertainties.

      But, the pro life political operatives are in bed with anti socialism economic conservatives. The result will be more, not fewer, abortions.

      • Stanta says:

        What about contraception, the cost of two Cosmos’ covers a month worth of the “pill”? Or 75 cents at the convenience store.

  5. .e says:

    Russia has tried to give economic incentives,but the fertility rates are falling. In Japan I read somewhere that young people aren’t even interested in sex.

  6. .e says:

    ” But, the pro life political operatives are in bed with anti socialism economic conservatives. The result will be more, not fewer, abortions.” Jon what does this mean?

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      .e 4:14 What I mean is economic anti socialism conservatives will never offer incentives to women or couples to alter their decisions. Thus, if those who want fewer abortions are going to try incentives, they will have to part ways with economic conservatives. As a Catholic, it means returning to your roots, the social gospel.

      I agree incentives have not worked in many countries where they have been tried. That’s why I wrote the incentives have to be larger than anything attempted so far.

      Having said that, I’m not necessarily in favor of such incentives. The world’s population is still rising. A fall in population seems on the horizon and will be really difficult economically. In the aricle I attached it said there are more adult diapers used in Japan than baby diapers. I wonder how the pay for all the old folks.

  7. buzz marick says:

    The big guy in the sky will definately have something to say about all of this. May not be in this demension. Stay tuned.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      buzz 10:52 “The big guy in the sky…”

      As entech pointed, there have been many “big guys”, I suppose new ones are being dreamed up as we speak. There are even questions about the “in the sky”. The big guy apparently was located in animals for much of human history. That’s what cave drawings indicate.

      Nevertheless, I glad your beliefs give you something useful to you.

  8. entech says:

    buzz–Which big guy do you mean? There are quite a few that are completely different, one of many, one that made everything, one that is everything, three of one. Some are supposed to be the same one but have different attributes and requirements.

    Which radio/TV station should stay tuned to, to get the latest version of absolute truth?

  9. buzz marick says:

    entech 11:24 I was speaking of spiritually staying tuned.

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