Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Live and Let Thrive

As I drove home from campus, I heard some NPR commentary concerning America's birthrate, which apparently is somewhere on the range of three children per couple. I have no idea if this is true or even if was for America (though the woman spoke as if it was) but that is immaterial for the purposes of this post.

The commentator offered explanations: people want to show their peers they can afford more or they want to prove how fertile they are. These malevolent justifications are insufficient. These desires, to one degree or another, always exist. Why would having children become such a powerful way to express them? Are they bored of buying cars and talking about sex? I have a hard time believing that.

A better reason is that because people are richer, they can afford more children. Parents often invest more of their money in fewer kids. More clothes. More education. More extracircular activities. But a person can only do so many things. Combined with a greater abundance of child care having another kid sounds pretty cheap, especially as the economy grows.

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