The Economy of Kids

As I catch up on my reading, I have run across two blog posts linking kids and economics, both spawned by the same WSJ article on the subject.

Now, I’m on top of this. I note that the average cost of raising a child from 0 to 18 is something like $180,000. We’ve gotten five that far with one more to go, so I’m not surprised that I’m broke. But I also would say that I’m a very, very rich guy. (And hope to enjoy that wealth for a long time if the stress of having two very attractive and very available unwed daughters does not kill me first.)

Both blogs question whether the economics of satisfaction should control or be a factor in our child bearing decisions. Megan McCardle puts it bluntly:

And here’s where I wonder if we ought to re-examine our commitment to happiness. It seems to me that there’s possibly some merit — if we persevere and have the sense to learn from it — in the other-orientation that is (good) parenting. It’s fine to go through life happy, in other words, but I suspect we also want to go through life without becoming big fat self-absorbed jackasses. Children really help in that regard.

Mike Sacasas reacts in a similar vein:

…it seems misguided to capture the meaning of a child’s life and the experience of parenting with its tears and joys in a simple statistical survey or a budget line item. Perhaps it is the reduction of social life to economic life, that accounts for the changing patterns of childbearing; perhaps it is an almost narcissistic view of personal fulfillment.

I am not one advocating the ‘have as many children as you can’ mentality of some. (A wonderful review of this point of view here.) And I confess that there have been times when I’ve wanted to turn in my resignation as a parent, but have been unable to find the office where it was to be submitted.

That said, in the wonderfully providential way in which God has lead us, He has given to us a myriad of blessings, sometimes through pain, which could never be measured with economic instruments.

Though, it is clear, we are still broke.

2 thoughts on “The Economy of Kids

  1. Jenny

    HI Randy – Kevin and I both read that WSJ article. We looked at each other and said, “What is HAPPINESS?” To quote T Keller, “What is personal fulfillment, and WHY personal fulfillment?” Serving the idol of self, does not fulfill any more than serving an idol of family.

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