JS-Kit/Echo comments for article at http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2006/03/birthrates.html (24 comments)

  Tentative mapping of comments to original article, corrections solicited.

jsid-1141988309-346999  Jay.Mac at Fri, 10 Mar 2006 10:58:29 +0000

Maybe if they weren't dressing their kids in designer gear, these figures would be substantially lower? You can raise a child for a heck of a lot less than that in the first year- and the cost of living appears to be lower in the US than it is here in the UK.

The main difference between the UK/US in these costs seems to be in health insurance- one advantage of the NHS.

As for looking after the children, I'm of the opinion that the mother and father should do as much of that as possible, rather than rushing back to work ASAP. What's the point of having a child if you're not there to raise it? And don't forget the cost-saver of grandparents- most of the couples I know who have children would rather have them looked after by relatives than by a nanny.

I think something that needs factored into this is not the pure cost- it's how much of your lifestyle you're willing to change for a child. I spend substantially less on clothing, DVDs, PC games, comics, books, and just general stuff- my kids come first. It's not a sacrifice either- my children take up about 110% of the time I would have classed as "free" anyway. I also don't go out as much- can't just pop out to the pub or the cinema or the restaurant anymore; and a lot of people are unwilling to give up their "freedom" like that.
It seems to me that the focus has shifted away from starting a family to having a good time- younger people seem less inclined to settle down because it means they won't be able to go out and have fun.

jsid-1141998740-347013  Kevin Baker at Fri, 10 Mar 2006 13:52:20 +0000


"The poor can reproduce without much repercussion. The middle class cannot - not if they want to maintain or even improve upon the life to which they've become accustomed."

jsid-1142000278-347017  1894C at Fri, 10 Mar 2006 14:17:58 +0000

Regarding Jay.Mac's comments. I think he is making the point that raising children is more important to family, society, and the nation as a whole then self gratification and feeding the consumer culture.

Robert Heinlein wrote about this in "starship troopers" The idea that sacrificing for the greater good is the hallmark of a citizen; and what greater good is there than raising respectful productive children.

jsid-1142002891-347021  Kevin Baker at Fri, 10 Mar 2006 15:01:31 +0000

I'll accept the premise, but "For God and Country" isn't all that inspiring a reason to reproduce - at least not for most people - if you look at the evidence.

jsid-1142010907-347039  KCSteve at Fri, 10 Mar 2006 17:15:07 +0000

Studies have shown that a family can actually save money by having one parent stay home with the kids. And it is kids. At about three young children the cost of daycare will be higher than the take-home of even a pretty good job.

jsid-1142017322-347062  Sarah at Fri, 10 Mar 2006 19:02:02 +0000

I fully sympathize. My husband and I are typical DINKs (double-income, no kids) and it's really hard to let go of that prosperity and freedom. Nevertheless, we're gonna start the family in the next two years. Since I want to work at least part-time, and loathe the idea of daycare, we're opting to relocate 2000 miles so we can be within walking distance of my parents -- Grandpa & Grandma's No-Cost Daycare. Too bad that's not an option for more women. There was a happier time (for parents and kids) when the extended family helped raise the kids.

jsid-1142019035-347071  DJ at Fri, 10 Mar 2006 19:30:35 +0000

Hmmm ...

Sarah, what do the future Grandma and Grandpa think about this?

My brother's wife is "the Grandma" for her daughter's two kids, one six and the other two. She runs Grandma's No-Cost Daycare while her daughter works. At age 51, having raised her child, she should be starting her reclining years. Instead, she's exhausted.

Wait about five years and tell us again what they think of it. I'll bet they change their minds between now and then.

jsid-1142021006-347073  Kevin Baker at Fri, 10 Mar 2006 20:03:26 +0000

My wife quit work six years ago to provide low- (not no) cost daycare for our grandkids.

It was, at that time, a pretty significant hit to our income. It would have been nice to have had her $20+k annual income, but we are able to manage without it.

I'm happy she made the decision - that mindset is one of the things that I find attractive about her - but the "prosperity and freedom" comment reasonates.

After all, I'm a materialistic, selfish sonofabitch. ;-)

jsid-1142022837-347075  Chris Byrne at Fri, 10 Mar 2006 20:33:57 +0000

I jsut came into an instant family myself.

My first major expense, food costs tripled. Then clothing costs about doubled. Utility costs went up 50%.

We didnt have enough space so we moved into a new house (rent to own), and rent doubled.

We have two kids, a four and two year old; and my wife and I did the math.

It would take her earning $48k a year for us to break even between taxes, child care, and increased expenses. She is not capable of earning that much at this time.

That means that I've doubled my expenses with no addition in income.

So yeah, theres a lifestyle compromise.

jsid-1142023003-347076  geekWithA.45 at Fri, 10 Mar 2006 20:36:43 +0000


Well, if we just got rid of those pesky child labor laws, so the kids could start bringing money into the house by working in the sweatshops and salt mines, say, starting @ 5 years of age, that would completely limit total exposure to childcare expenses to 5x childCareCostPerYear, and then the kid could start carrying his own medical coverage, which would eliminate all the medical expenses. ;)


jsid-1142027225-347090  Sarah at Fri, 10 Mar 2006 21:47:05 +0000

Sarah, what do the future Grandma and Grandpa think about this?

It was their idea.

Grandpa is retiring in a couple of years, and they really want family nearby. They already have several grandchildren, ranging in age from 2 to 10, and they can't get enough of them. When my step-sister visits from Germany every year, she drops her three kids off and pretty much disappears for two weeks -- Grandpa and Grandma prefer it that way. Who am I to argue? :)

jsid-1142031422-347094  bud at Fri, 10 Mar 2006 22:57:02 +0000

"If you're already poor, whether you live in an impoverished country or not, squirting out another kid doesn't add that much financial burden."

I think you're confusing "poor" in the US with "poor" in the 3ed world. When you have to worry about where your own next meal is coming from, viewing an extra mouth to feed as not "much of a financial burden" is ludicrous.

No, the pressure to "breed" is very much cultural, and those pressures *overcome* the financial issues.

jsid-1142035541-347102  Kevin Baker at Sat, 11 Mar 2006 00:05:41 +0000

There is a significant difference between impoverished (Mexico, for instance) and destitute (Ethiopia, a few years ago.) On top of that, there is almost always a spectrum of relative wealth, even among the poor.

The pressure to breed is largely cultural, but that pressure drops off dramatically with increasing wealth.

jsid-1142043073-347114  DJ at Sat, 11 Mar 2006 02:11:13 +0000

It was their idea.

My bet is still on the table. There's a difference between having grandkids visit now and then vs. raising grandkids five long days a week, week after week after week. I hope it works.

jsid-1142053399-347123  Kevin Baker at Sat, 11 Mar 2006 05:03:19 +0000

My wife did it, voluntarily, for five years. Now she just has them in the afternoons and occasional nights and weekends.

jsid-1142065062-347131  Bob Reynolds at Sat, 11 Mar 2006 08:17:42 +0000

A couple of posts at Chicago Boyz seem relevant to the current topic. Posts discuss the idea that those not having children are economic free riders.

Family Free-Riders
and a followup:
Family Free-Riders Part II

jsid-1142091771-347147  Sarah at Sat, 11 Mar 2006 15:42:51 +0000

My bet is still on the table. There's a difference between having grandkids visit now and then vs. raising grandkids five long days a week, week after week after week. I hope it works.

Yes, there is a difference, but that's not going to be the deal. The kids'll spend 10-20 hours a week max at G&G's. If it becomes unmanageable, then I'll cut back my hours at work.

jsid-1142132301-347205  geekWithA.45 at Sun, 12 Mar 2006 02:58:21 +0000

Incidentally, if you happen to be a household that has two adults pulling in salaries of professional magnitude, and two or more post toddler preschoolers, and have a spare bedroom, I'd take a look into getting an au-pair. The cost is about the same (+/-) as the cost of equivalent day care, its infinitely more convenient (no beat the clock child fetching excercises), and the quality of care is tops.

jsid-1142135796-347209  Kevin Baker at Sun, 12 Mar 2006 03:56:36 +0000

But do you pay all of the associated employment taxes for her? And is she a legal immigrant? If I recall correctly, an high-ranking Bush (1) administrative nominee ran into a slight snag on that topic...


jsid-1142155113-347228  Mastiff at Sun, 12 Mar 2006 09:18:33 +0000

Bunch of whiners we got over here…

I know several families with upwards of ten children each, just in my community. Two of them have over fifteen. They aren't exactly rich, but they do all right. (It gets easier once the first few kids get old enough to help with the child-raising.)

It boils down to what you think is the highest good. If you want children in quantity, you will find a way. If not, then not.

jsid-1142201353-347288  Mark at Sun, 12 Mar 2006 22:09:13 +0000

Back when the kids were small(VERY tight finances), we figured it as some mentioned above; to actually make money after taxes, transport, work clothes, etc., my wife would have to have made more than I did for it to be worth it. And oh, yeah, that second kid was a real financial hit. Now I tell them that when I get old(er) and cranky(er) and can't get around, I'll decide which one I move in with.

jsid-1142205522-347296  DJ at Sun, 12 Mar 2006 23:18:42 +0000

Mark, be really nice to your kids. They get to pick your nursing home.

jsid-1142209022-347305  geekWithA.45 at Mon, 13 Mar 2006 00:17:02 +0000

>>But do you pay all of the associated employment taxes for her? And is she a legal immigrant?

The agency earns their fee by sorting out all the issues of J-1 (cultural exchange) visa compliance, which is exempt from employment taxes. :)

jsid-1142256434-354108  cREbralFIX at Mon, 13 Mar 2006 13:27:14 +0000

DUH...and the feminists thought they could beat *mere* biology.

LOL...hormones win, again!

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