Fertility rates

Should the Government Try to Bribe You Into Having More Babies?

Increased wealth and technological progress give people greater liberty to decide when, how, with whom, and if they want to reproduce.

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BabiesPhotographerlondonDreamstimes
Photographerlondon/Dreamstime

"Our fertility decline is on par with serious, durable fertility declines in other big, developed countries, and may be extremely difficult to reverse," warns Lyman Stone, an economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By his calculations, America's total fertility rate has dropped from 2.1 kids per woman in 2007 to 1.77 now. Stone thinks this is a problem. Is it?

The total fertility rate is defined as the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime, all things being equal. The population replacement rate is conventionally defined as 2.1 children per woman: one to replace each parent, plus a few more to make up for kids who die or fail to reproduce.

Lyman acknowledges that fertility in the U.S. has fallen even more steeply in the past. For example, the total fertility rate dropped in just six years from 2.48 to 1.74 kids per woman between 1970 and 1976. It bounced back to basically the replacement rate in the 1990s and 2000s.

Lyman suggests that this time the fall will continue, dropping soon to the lowest domestic rates ever. Most other developed countries, he notes, have stayed below the replacement rate for decades. Low fertility, he fears, threatens the future of American economy and culture. He glumly notes that even extremely generous pro-natalist policies in European Union countries, Russia, and other developed nations have failed to boost fertility above replacement in those countries.

For example, France provides 26 weeks of paid maternity leave for a third child, highly subsidized day care, and monthly allowances for families with children amounting to as much as $300 per month. Such policies correlated with a fertility boost from 1.7 children per woman in the 1990s to just over 2.0 by 2015. Yet the country's total fertility then fell to 1.93 in 2016.

Stone's article provoked New York Times columnist Ross Douthat into a Twitter paroxysm. Trumpian populists, he despaired, were failing to engage in a "'natalists versus globalists' policy debate." Specifically, the pro-natalist Douthat was peeved that populist-in-chief Trump had dismissed a tax-bill amendment from Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah). The bill already includes language doubling the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per kid; Rubio and Lee want to make the credit refundable against payroll tax liability. The idea is to enable lower-income folks who pay little or no income tax to benefit from the credit by offsetting their payroll tax payments. (Without something like the Rubio/Lee amendment, the Center for Budget Priorities calculates that about 10 million children with low-income parents would receive a token benefit of $75 or less from the Senate's increase in the child tax credit.) Rubio and Lee want to pay for their proposal by lowering the corporate income tax rate to just 22 percent, not the 20 percent preferred by the president.

The current $1,000-per-child credit phases out at incomes higher than $150,000 for married filers with two children. In the Senate version, it would phase out in the case of married couples with two children whose incomes exceed $580,000. Since high-income people pay more income tax, they would be able to take full advantage to the new child tax credit to reduce their tax bills. This could be interpreted as trying to bribe high-income folks—who have lower fertility rates—into having more kids.

In any event, it costs about $233,610 to rear a child, so $2,000 a year isn't likely to be all that persuasive. But from Douthat's point of view, every little bit helps.

I, on the other hand, can't see why the government should be trying to manage how many kids people have in the first place. Fertility is falling because people are making trade-offs between having more children and more education, more career advancement, more disposable income, and more leisure. In addition, many people are choosing to have fewer children so that they can invest more in helping the children they do have to lead successful lives. Falling fertility is a sign that increased wealth and technological progress have given increasing numbers of people greater freedom to decide if, when, how, and with whom they want to reproduce. And that's a good thing.

For more background, see my article "Why Are People Having Fewer Kids?"

Disclosure: My wife and I try not to flaunt our voluntarily child-free lifestyle too much.

NEXT: Mike Flynn Pleads Guilty

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  1. Us right-thinking whites need to start having babies to thwart the brown hordes ISIS takeover of our country.

    My solution: outlaw birth control and make it mandatory for women to service white men in hooded sweatshirts.

    1. Harvey Weinstein wears a hooded sweatshirt?

      1. I don’t know what he has to do with anything, but no, he wears dapper sweater vests.

    2. You know, you mock that kind of thinking, but in a strictly statistical view of voting habits, we need a lot more white Americans if we are going to have less government. And we need less brown ones for that too. Libertarians somehow miss this in their need to virtue signal against whites.

      PS Yeah, I know #notall and #racist and all that. But my point stands. And in a democracy majority vote matters, not the minority/exceptions.

      1. ^ Shit like this makes the discussion of fertility sound icky. This right here is pure trash. The biggest supporters of big government are rich whites. Skin color does not determine your views on government. What utter nonsense

        1. It doesn’t determine them, but for reasons only partly known?some path-dependent?it does influence them. So does sex. In the long run we might be freer if we encouraged having more boys than girls.

        2. Democracy is about majority vote dude. And if you have a demographic whose majority is for bigger government, you’re going to get bigger government if you increase the size of that demographic. If you’ve got a demographic whose majority is for smaller government, you’re going to have a chance at smaller government if you increase that demographic. It’s basic logic.

          White people are the only ones who have a majority that trends toward smaller government. And that’s by a very small margin. Everyone else isn’t even close.

          PS there is definitely correlation between values and genetics, even among people who were adopted out.

          1. ^ This guy gets it.

      2. And we need less brown ones for that too

        We need *fewer* people – white or brown – with garbage grammar.

      3. Yes, Libertarians in the US are largely white, but libertarians are their own minuscule minority of the white population. If “a lot more white Americans” where the answer to less gov’t, given present demographics, we should now be little more than outright anarchy.

        1. But it’s not mostly a matter of the proportion of radical libertarians, but rather of how libertarian the popul’n is on avg. Think of libertarian as the adj., not the n., & it is comparative. Everybody’s libertarian to some degree, & there’s a popul’n avg.

      4. What white America do you live in that wants less government?

        1. Even my super rural side of the family wants more benefits, but only for people who deserve it somehow.

          1. “Keep yer gummint hands off mah draw checks!”

        2. Again, my point was demographics, which means generalizations.The margin is thin among whites. We’re talking about overall. And it’s slightly a majority right now. It’s not even close in any other demographic. They want bigger, stronger government.

          In reality there are ~40% of whites that are for larger government. Slightly above 50% are opposed.

          We decide things by a vote here. If we continue to increase the proportion of non-whites to whites, you all can kiss your libertarian dreams goodbye. That’s the reality we live in.

      5. we need a lot more white Americans if we are going to have less government

        Because it was all those white people voting that’s brought us to the Libertopia we currently enjoy.

        1. Quit virtue signaling to your brown horde pals, friendo.

        2. Man look at all those libertarian paradises in the brown world. South Africa truly became a great place when they granted the blacks the right to vote. Oh, wait…

      6. The problem isn’t not enough whites. If there is a problem, it’s that the small government side of the political spectrum has allowed the left to own the bulk of the minority vote.

      7. Why don’t you try convincing brown people of the virtues of your wonderful small-government beliefs?

        What about their race makes them natural socialists?

        1. Nothing about race. But uneducated poor people are the core constituents of the Free Shit Brigade, and the gov’t run education industry and War on Poverty programs have created a permanent underclass. Minorities make up a disproportionate share of that cohort.

        2. Tony, there’s not much that can be done to convince low IQ people of the value of liberty over the policy of gibsmedat.

  2. If your society’s fertility falls below replacement levels, that indicates that your societal structure is not fit for survival. When your government’s social polucies are dependent on having enough productive oeople in the younger generation to support the retired and other non-productive people, it is understandable why government would seek to reverse that trend.

    Whether it can is another issue.

    1. I’ve been saying for years now that we need to ban cell phones that are small enough to fit in a man’s pocket.

  3. Way I see it, the sooner this stupid race dies out, the better.

    1. I didn’t realize that the tax credit was assigned by race?

      1. I see us all as the human race, brother.

        1. You brought race into a conversation about child tax credits. That’s beyond strange

            1. (if it’s actually not clear, I meant species, not any one race among Homo sapiens)

              1. Ah. I was thinking more of racial mixing so we no longer have to live with the stupid dichotomy of whites and “people of color”.

    2. If politicians were a race, I would be a racist.

  4. So it turns out we needed those anchor babies. Anyway, we now have proof feminism will be to blame for America’s eventual downfall, as we all knew it would be. This wouldn’t happen if men could have babies.

  5. I’ve been involved in a number of parenting-relate online forums, and I never encountered anyone who said “Well, I wasn’t sure about having a kid, but because of xyz tax incentive, I went for it!” Even if one assumes it’s fundamentally acceptable for a government to encourage procreation, the reality is that it just doesn’t work. At least not in a reasonably-free developed society. Romania had plenty of babies being born under Ceausescu, but that didn’t turn out so well.

    1. Exceot Bailey us saying that the reason for falling fertility is economic. If it falls for financial reasons then it theoretically can be raised for financial incentives.

      1. But is Bailey staking out claims of causality or correlation?

        1. I’m reasonably sure that Bailey is saying “Who gives a shit why birth rates are falling? The government should piss off. People should be free to make their choices and the government shouldn’t tell people what to do with their bodies.

          I know he mentions some of the potential reasons why people might be making the choice to have fewer kids, but that isn’t central to his point in the article.

          1. Bailey states categirically that lower fertility rates, even below replacement level, are a good result. There are rather explicit reasons why a declining, aging population is not a good thing for the current structure of government policies.

    2. This… I can’t ever recall making any major life decision based on (or even considering) what the tax implications might be.

      Using the tax code for purposes of social engineering is just another form of ridiculous central planning.

      1. I can…when buying my house. Not so much for the mortgagee interest deduction but I factored in the local jurisdiction taxes so I knew the true monthly costs of the home to make sure it was affordable. But I also put down 20% down and had fix rate (albeit 30 years which you can all lambast me for but it was the right decision for me).

        1. Yeah, I wasn’t trying to imply that tax policy has zero effect on any individual’s decisions. I think that the impacts are greatly overestimated though. My point was more to say that it’s inherently wrong to try to legislate in the attempt of affecting group behavior… stay out of the way and let individuals decide without interference. Personally, I think we should do away with as many deductions as possible and move towards broad base and low rates.

          Also… cut spending.

          1. Also, the tax structure gets factored into the housing price over the long term, if the tax code doesn’t change much. Generous deductions for taxes and mortgage interest allow home prices to rise higher than they otherwise would, lose the deduction and the equilibrium would reset, with lower purchase prices but no deduction – same out of pocket or mostly the same at the end of the day.

          2. OK, the impacts are overstated. But when it comes to small changes to the avg. in a large popul’n, little effects add up.

    3. I never encountered anyone who said “Well, I wasn’t sure about having a kid, but because of xyz tax incentive, I went for it!”

      Dear Stoic,

      As a parent of 3, if I had more disposable income and more property I would have more children.

      Sincerely,
      Mad.Casual

      P.S. – *I’m* the one who’s had to look at our finances and say we can’t have any more kids.

      1. Eventually you can recoup the costs by putting them to work in your monocle mines.

        Sorry, I mean best wishes for greater prosperity for you and the Mrs.

        1. Eventually you can recoup the costs by putting them to work in your monocle mines.

          It’s been my experience that if you put them to work right beside the filthy orphans they don’t learn how to become proper, gentrified libertarians. Only through rigorous study of the classics of libertarianism; Bastiat, Hayek, Montesquieu, Locke, von Mises, punctuated by more well rounded pastimes (such as human chess and peasant skeet shooting) does one groom a proper libertarian brood.

          1. Even John Galt had to learn to swing a hammer and learn how to rivet.

      2. P.S. – *I’m* the one who’s had to look at our finances and say we can’t have any more kids.

        If your wife is into it BUCS is willing to impregnate her and pay for the extra child. Of course, he has to film it, because the only way he can orgasm is watching it POV-style.

      3. Ditto. I have #2 on the way, and when casually suggesting we might go for a third my wife immediately refused, citing costs and she’s absolutely right (I knew this already since I handle the money, but I was surprised at the suddenness and absoluteness of her response). But if XYZ tax incentive existed to put us over that threshold then we probably would do so.

        1. But if XYZ tax incentive existed to put us over that threshold then we probably would do so.

          Well, as D.R.(P.) below indicates and I’m pretty sure you’ll agree, it’s more subtle than that. Bush Era tax cuts getting perpetuated will boost savings accounts over the course of a decade. Obama Era $100 refund stimulus checks? Not so much. You don’t hear “Let’s have a kid because of XYZ tax cut.” largely because XYZ tax cut is or can done/decided in a 2-4 yr. fashion while kids are more of a 20-ish yr. commitment and cash/taxes are more liquid while children are an exceedingly fixed asset. Not to mention that when a corporation expands it’s workforce by 20% everybody wants to know and analyze every little motivation but when a family expands by 20% those sorts of analyses are a bit taboo.

          1. Well, as D.R.(P.) below indicates and I’m pretty sure you’ll agree, it’s more subtle than that.

            Agreed, but the point remains the same: if they cut me a $40k check to have a kid in 2019 then I think my wife would be amenable to the idea. XYZ tax incentive will likely never be large enough to change our minds, but there’s plenty of people for whom it might.

        2. But how often do poor people do this? In fact, how often do poor people get married and THEN have children?

    4. “Well, I wasn’t sure about having a kid, but because of xyz tax incentive

      It’s more subtle than that. I don’t know all the details but things like day care/child care do sometimes factor into couples having babies. Ironically, it often factors into the decision for wealthier, working couples. [insert idiocracy comment here]

      If a couple is juggling the decision about a baby and its hinging balancing the cost of daycare, the mom (Sexist!) pulling back on her job etc., a tax break might figure into it on a statistically significant way.

  6. “This could be interpreted as trying to bribe high-income folks?who have lower fertility rates?into having more kids.”

    Is it a bribe or is it just an acknowledgement that a family of four earning $400,000 has more expenses than a couple earning $400,000?

    1. If the tax code is going to incorporate ‘living expenses’ as a higher priority than ‘taxes’, then it needs a far more comprehensive overhaul than a piddly child credit.

      Personally I think that’s where tax reform should be going – but that also means broadening the tax base way beyond income. And that has zero chance of happening.

      1. Isn’t the very nature of the tax code in it’s current format setup to incorporate ‘Living expenses’. From the Progressive tax brackets to tax refunds and credits for things like having kids while poor (EITC).

    2. I think that, as long as there is a progressive income tax, a lower rate for a larger family makes more sense than a credit for children. If an income is shared among more people it makes some sense to treat it differently than the income of a single person.

      On the other hand, having children is an optional and predictable expense.

  7. This is yet another reason I support unlimited immigration. Any demographic “problems” can be solved by simply letting more people into the country.

    Of course, it’s not even clear that fewer babies being born is a bad thing. In fact, it can be argued that we should actually celebrate declining fertility rates. I recommend this excellent Guardian piece, Want to fight climate change? Have fewer children.

    1. You’re trying to troll here, but your first statement is correct: immigration will correct this imbalance. But, the US already allows in the largest number of immigrants than anywhere in the world, so I’m not sure that would even correct this. The entire world is facing a demographic crisis, as a whole. This, of course, is primarily due to the West’s infertility, but even countries that still boast good population growth are still experiencing declines

      1. But, the US already allows in the largest number of immigrants than anywhere in the world, so I’m not sure that would even correct this.

        Don’t see how that follows. Let even more people in, and the imbalance is corrected.

        Europe will have to drop their Ponzi-scheme-as-social-insurance before we drop ours!

        1. I don’t disagree. I just mean that the fertility crisis is an issue facing the rest of the world. But, yes, more immigration would correct the American imbalance in the short-term

      2. I’m “trying to troll” by …….. saying things that are correct?

        Why is it so hard to believe I’m sincere? I’m a left-leaning, pro-open-borders, anti-Second-Amendment liberal-tarian who is passionate about climate justice. There are plenty of us out there.


        1. Why is it so hard to believe I’m sincere?

          Keep it up mate, you’re doing great some great satire here.

      3. the US already allows in the largest number of immigrants than anywhere in the world

        Only because the US has more people than anywhere except China/India – and why would immigrants go to those two.

      4. Of course, one of the explicit reasons we ‘need’ to let more immigrants in is so we can tax them to support non-working perfectly healthy and educated citizens.

        Kinky.

  8. While a lower fertility rate is a sign a rich country, new baby humans are the most important renewable resource we have. Human ingenuity is boundless, but the less humans we have, the fewer chances to tap into that ingenuity there are.

    A person some day may invent cheap fusion, or a better and faster way to expand into the solar system than tiny chemical rockets. It would be nice if that person gets born.

    1. Of course, the obvious response is a person might decide grasping political power and slaughtering millions of people is a great idea. It would be nice if that person doesn’t get born.

    2. but the less humans we have, the fewer chances to tap into that

      I see what you did there

    3. When people delay child bearing until their thirties,of COURSE their fertility rate sinks like a stone. It’s correlated with education, because those educated couples try to establish their careers first. People also tend to marry later than twenty or thirty years ago.

  9. In lieu of bribes, how about letting parents keep more of their own money, not arresting parents who let kids play outside, supporting school choice, etc., etc.?

    1. Oh, and not arresting parents who try to provide a sound learning environment for their kids by acting against bullies.

    2. That would be nice. Children become a lot more of a burden when legal and social pressures mean you have to constantly supervise or entertain children rather than letting them be freer sooner.

  10. Not my fault, I want ten+ kids and just can’t find a woman who wants to go along with it.

    1. 10+ kids from 1 wife is much harder then 10+ kids from multiple babymamas.

      1. My Grandma did it. I’m sure some fucking millennial can do it too.

    2. Need to find yourself a 14-year-old.

      1. Gross. Teens are disgusting.

        I admit this is a hard problem though. I actually do want a big family. And I as I grow older I understand this becomes harder and harder. Less and less likely.

        Sad to see one of my oldest dreams slowly fading.

        1. Russian bride time?

        2. Adopt, you selfish prick.

          (and the previous comment was referencing that Federalist article from yesterday, you illiterate buffoon)

          1. This is why you have no friends.

            1. There is no one reason, jackass.

          2. That’s a very likely thing I will do. It’s absurd how difficult it is to adopt though.

            1. That does suck. Any fucking moron can have a baby in the usual way. But if you want to adopt, you have to have your whole life examined and pay a shit load of money.

  11. I can’t have kids, so flaunting my childfree lifestyle is all I have! But seriously, when can we throw an egg and some sperm in a bag and make a baby without it being contained within another human being already? In my small social circle it would make a huge difference. I have at least a dozen friends and family who would like to have children but can’t, including myself, and the hurdles of adoption are such that only one couple is trying for it, and they have to use a BC agency (when they’re in eastern Canada) that works with Haitian kids and they’re willing to accept older and multiple kids, but it still could take years to get approved. Give us our lab bag babies!

    1. Has the notion of surrogate mothers not reached America’s top hat?

      1. Paid surrogacy is illegal in Canada. I don’t know any women capable of it who would want to, in my case. It’s a pain and those weird women who love it deserve to get paid for it.

    2. There are numerous men on this board who will gladly donate their swimmers to you and your friends, so all you need is a vessel. I say we visit every Starbucks and offer sperm and eggs to every barista aged 22-37 who has an art history or philosophy degree.

      1. I’m like 100% sure that’s an act of war to threaten to breed more Crustys in a foreign country.

        1. As someone who spends far too much time with Canadians I feel that you people need to have me infest your pure society.

          Get weird, hosers!

          1. Fact: Crusty’s musk naturally contains undertones of maple and cheese curds that tend to drive Canadian females wild, but his body generates enough heat that he can cause severe pain to their ice-based anatomies from a distance of several feet.

    3. But seriously, when can we throw an egg and some sperm in a bag and make a baby without it being contained within another human being already?

      I believe the proper term here is replicant or golem. I mean, if you can’t claim that it’s a part of your body and kill it is it really a baby?

      *runs away*

  12. Fewer babies is a ethnic concern, not a national concern. Indeed, “being American” is strictly cultural/legal rather than ethnic, so why go on about needing to make more babies? We are a nation of immigrants; we have a virtually unlimited supply of potential Americans even if no-one ever knocks boots again (as is happening in Japan).

    That said, I wholly support a unified base American culture that extols and encourages individualism, independence, rebellion, distrust of government, laissez faire capitalism, and the NAP (that is explicitly applied to govt) on to which immigrants can add their own distinctive positive cultural artifacts – I believe we used to call it a, ‘melting pot’, but that’s so racist these days.

    1. My mother was an immigrant. If they’d have kept her out, the H&R comments section would be a much better place.

  13. Heh. If the government tries to manipulate the birth rate, the rate will fall to zero. Watching the government trying to “fix” something is like watching a monkey trying to fuck a football.

    1. If the government tries to manipulate the birth rate, the rate will fall to zero. Watching the government trying to “fix” something is like watching a monkey trying to fuck a football.

      The only possible outcome of a monkey trying to fuck a football is a flat football? Hell no, there’s all kinds of ways the government can fuck that shit up.

      Keep in mind that a decade ago having binders full of women was an unforgivable sin perpetrated by both sides and that, technically, targeted reproduction to displace or diminish another race constitutes a form of genocide.

      I wouldn’t rule out ideas so fucked up as “Open borders on the condition that sexual assault of an immigrant isn’t a crime as long as any resulting children aren’t born on American soil.”

  14. Low fertility, he fears, threatens the future of American economy and culture.

    Lyman Stone is correct if you accept that our economy is built around wealth transfer payments from the government.

    1. Whether it should be is a different question from whether it is.

  15. If the rest of us stop reproducing, that means Mormons inherit the country. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that’s a good thing.

    1. It’s a pretty friendly thing to happen.

  16. We just need to remind ppl how wierd and bratty only children are

  17. We just need to remind ppl how wierd and bratty only children are

    1. It depends on the parents. My wife and i only have the one, and at 13 she’s more mentally and emotionally mature than most of her friends – largely because she only had us to communicate with around the house when she was younger, and we never talked down to her.

      1. That’s not the problem with only children, it’s a resistance to compromise.

      2. It depends on the parents. My wife and i only have the one, and at 13 she’s more mentally and emotionally mature than most of her friends – largely because she only had us to communicate with around the house when she was younger, and we never talked down to her.

        That sounds like something an only child would say.

        1. I have three siblings and my wife has six, so no.

          1. I should’ve added a sarc tag.

            There’s more than one way to be bratty and single-child v. siblings, IMO, doesn’t correlate with general or specific brattiness.

            The two most bratty people I know personally both had several siblings but were singular in their gender in strong maternal/weak paternal households. They frequently cite their relationship with their mother as a sign of their maturity. Even when everybody else is just horsing around.

  18. At some point, I think it is desirable for human population to reach an equilibrium state (or something closer to equilibrium). And it looks like we are likely getting close to such a state. Not having a growing population can cause some difficulties. But change always does that and people adjust. If more people are needed somewhere, there will be more people, whether through increased fertility, immigration or whatever.

  19. I can’t find a quarter million dollars worth of any crap I own that I’d rather be replaced by a screaming infant.

    1. They do eventually turn into people.

      1. What in Tony’s long repertoire of comments has ever indicated that he’s interested in other people?

      2. And why would I want more people in my house?

      3. Are you sure? The child in question would be from Tony’s stock , after all.

        1. Yeah, I can’t find a quarter million dollars of any crap he owns that I’d rather be replaced by a screaming infant either.

  20. The problem is not a lack of babies, its that there are too many geezers. People live a lot longer now and require long term and more expensive medical care to support them. Unless there are major advances in curing diseases of ageing, this is not going to get any better even if younger generations start having 4 or 5 kids like they used to. Those same kids will have to compete with older folks who can continue to work into their 70s.

  21. ” the total fertility rate dropped in just six years from 2.48 to 1.74 kids per woman between 1970 and 1976. It bounced back to basically the replacement rate in the 1990s and 2000s”

    Back in the 70s TOP MEN informed the great unwashed of a couple relevant “facts” that as I recall had an impact on birth rates. We were told that the planet was undergoing a “population explosion” and that any more than 2 kids per family was downright immoral. People were ashamed to walk down the street with 3 kids. Secondly, we were informed that making and nurturing human beings was not a fulfilling pursuit and if a woman was not toiling at some crappy job she was worthless. By the 80’s most women were working not for fulfillment but to put food on the table. Month old babies were commonly put in the hands of strangers as government stepped in to provide daycare and indoctrination. Meanwhile the middle class tax burden edged upwards to 40%+ so in a 2 parent working household one spouse effectively served as a slave to the state. Are we wealthier? Define wealth.

    1. Homes are larger than 40 years ago – by a lot.
      Multicar households are common, and the cars are a lot nicer and last a lot longer.
      Cell phones, computers, cable tv, internet, on demand everything, Amazon dropping off low cost items at your door.
      Flying is no longer a luxury item like it was in the 70’s.
      Greater selection of goods at grocery stores and cheaper inflation adjusted prices (thanks Walmart!).

      Yes, I’d say we are wealthier by just about any measure. Whether or not the increase in material goods means we live more meaningful or fulfilling lives is subjective and up to the individual.

  22. Sooo cute the way they got them all to look in 1 place, except the 1 stage left! I’m guessing they originally thought of that shot as an out take, until they realized the one smiling & looking the other way was what made it soooo cute.

  23. Yes, it should bribe us. We need lots of babies to pay for our Social Secruity when the reach employment age (13).And we should enact huge tax increases to take effect when we retire. Milk those little babies. We made ’em; we can tax ’em.

  24. So, when are they going to bribe someone to try having kids with me?

  25. I agree the government should usually not use economic policy to influence fertility, but Bailey ignores the fact that existing government policy massively subsidizes fertility for poor people through taxation of the middle and upper classes. For example, my wife and I receive virtually no tax benefits for having two children. We don’t even get the child tax credit at our income level. By contrast, a single mother making $12 an hour receives thousands of dollars of tax subsidies plus thousands of dollars of public assistance for each child she has. Additionally, while I abhor the concept of public schools, and will send my children to private, Catholic schools, I must pay for the public school system that often serves as nothing more than free daycare for low income children. Finally, my wife and I both work. To hire a nanny (legally) we had to jump through complex administrative hoops for state and federal tax departments and we needed to pay the nanny in post tax dollars that the government taxed again on our nanny’s side.

    My wife and I are obviously pretty well off, and I’m not whining about our circumstances. I’m pointing out that existing government policy makes children virtually free for many lower class individuals, while making them massively expensive for middle and upper middle class folks. Empirically, birth rates are consistent with that. The poor have lots of kids; middle and upper middle class folks don’t.

  26. Oh boo hoo. They knocked off millions of us in WW1 and WW2, not to mention all the countless other wars, and then complain we don’t have the civilizational confidence to breed when faced with these odds? Of course we don’t!!

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