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â€śYou can’t legislate demographicsâ€ť, saysÂ Derek Thompson, surveying the economic drag of Americaâ€™sÂ low birthrate. Blame, in part, theÂ world-record costÂ of giving birth in America, and theÂ recession, for the decline of babies.
Who should pay more? Nonparents who earn more than the median household income, just a shade above $51,000… We all benefit from the work of parents. Each new generation reinvigorates our society with its youthful vim and vigor. As my childless friends and I grow crankier and more decrepit, a steady stream of barely postpubescent brainiacs writes catchy tunes and invents breakthrough technologies that keep us entertained and make us more productive. The willingness of parents to bear and nurture children saves us from becoming an economically moribund nation of hateful curmudgeons.
Not everyone is ready to write a rejoinder toÂ Rust Cohle-esque anti-natalismÂ into the tax code.Â Matt YglesiasÂ wrote in 2009 that a focus on the economic consequences of the birth rate is a vestigial agrarian impulse. His preferred policy is essentially fertility neutrality: â€śTo deliberately constrain people from having large families would be abhorrent, but itâ€™s not clear to me that we should be going out of our way to encourage them to do soâ€ť.
Choosing not to have a child has fairly straightforward economic benefits, beyond avoiding ten plus thousand dollars in medical costs.Â BuzzFeedâ€™s Anna NorthÂ says that there are economic benefits of birth control: â€ś56% of women said contraception had allowed them to support themselves financially; 51% said it had helped them finish their education. And 50% said it had help them get or keep a job.â€ť Part of Americaâ€™s falling birth rate is theÂ plummeting rateÂ of teen pregnancy, which is an unalloyed good.
A very easy way to make more Americans is to let in more people into the country who want to be here. Overall US population growth was justÂ 0.7% in 2007, so why not,Â Ezra KleinÂ asked, pass immigration reform. â€śImmigration is essentially the importation of new workers. Itâ€™s akin to raising the birth rate, only easier, because most of the newcomers are old enough to workâ€ť.
Religious incentives can, in highly specific cases, work too. Georgia saw aÂ 20% riseÂ in births in 2008 after the head of the countryâ€™s Orthodox church promised to personally baptize any baby of parents with more than two kids. â€“Â Ben Walsh
On to todayâ€™s links: