Shanna Pearson is a political science professor at the University of Rhode Island.

2 responses to “Family Planning: The Economics Of Kids”

  1. cailin rua

    Those days were a long time ago for me but I remember them as if they were yesterday.  Things were very difficult.  There are two things I never understood.  The first is why it should take two incomes to support a family.  My parents had eight on one income.  The other thing is why it is always assumed that the mother of the  children would or should be the one home with the children in a single earner household.  That said, I think it is very unfortunate we live in an economy that is so competitive children are not able to spend more time at home with their parents, involved in play and unplanned activity.  I think too much structure stunts creativity.

    The points about resume building and social security benefit accrual made in the NYT article are certainly concerns, regardless.  It’s sad how the loudest voices in Congress are also the most hypocritical when it comes to making pronouncements on family policy.  I have very mixed feelings about universal pre-school but barring a kinder and gentler society it would be a start in providing fairness by making childcare affordable for everyone to some degree.  Thinking back now, I remember how lucky we were to get our kids into the JCC on a scholarship even though we’re not Jewish.  They had a very good program.  It was a life saver but it was only a half day. 

  2. Econprof

    The tax system simply discourages middle class families from having both parents in the workforce.
    That’s a generalization; the tax code offers both benefits and penalties to families and “married” households, depending on a multitude of factors, including how we treat “marriage.”  
    Married couples can elect to set up spousal IRA and draw on the higher spouse’s social security so the impact on retirement is not as drastic as implied.  Having spousal IRAs better align with replicating individuals’ work related retirement contributions (so one could continue, if they choose to leave the workforce, at least maintain a previous level of retirement savings) would help along with increasing any AGI phase-outs.
    I agree on the lifetime earnings and career progression impacts; however, at some point, don’t we have to recognize the “benefit” accrued to the family from having children?  Even if I don’t have children, I recognize the positive externality (in econ speak) to society from (most) children so I should subsidize the parents/guardians to a degree though helping to pay for public education and other public benefits.  However, parents do get (I assume) individual benefit from their children and should bear some of the cost.  Yes, I realize the care and feeding and other direct costs are (generally) the parents’ responsibilities, but now we should have the public to pick up more of the direct costs for parents in the name of “kinder and gentler” society or “fairness”?
    As for universal pre-school (or even full day K), one of the troubling aspects is the lack of evidence such investment produces a better education at the end of the stream.  Longitudinal evidence does show it helps certain groups (lower income and certain racial group children), but most of the gains are gone by 3rd grade.  Hence, until the entire process can take advantage of the head start, you are merely moving the start line but not the finish line.  So again, to use universal pre-school as simply a means to shift costs earlier to the public for child care under the guise of better education policy seems hardly fair at all to some of us without kids.
     
     
     
     

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