When Is A Child A Commodity ? Economics Of Parenthood

I am in a pensive mood as far as child rearing is concerned. In a flight of fancy, or call it a mid day reverie, as I battle a white flyand thrip infestation, I wondered if the brat could fetch a decent dowry one day. Afterall,  at the rate I am training him in household chores, he would be much more adept than many of the little girls I am seeing out there.

Yet another article on the cost of bringing up a child with a free financial calculator thrown in, courtesy of CNN just out today. http://money.cnn.com/interactive/pf/cost-of-children/

The rough number thrown about has between 200 to 400 thousand to bring up a child in a developed countries like America and UK.
£227k in UK.

US245K or double if you live in New York.

Middle-income parents” making between $61,530 & $106,540 each year can anticipate spending $245,340 per kid

The USDA estimates that households with less than $61,530 in income will spend a total of $176,550 per child

At the same time we have the trend of older parents, mothers starting families at a later age. http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2014/05/09/for-more-american-moms-kids-are-a-late-30s-thing/?mod=e2tw

Cost of living is rising 5 times more than earnings in places like UK too.

Americans are starting to say that the next generation will have it worse and believing in it too.  http://blogs.wsj.com/atwork/2014/08/28/the-next-generation-will-have-it-worse-most-americans-say/?mod=e2tw

Is it any surprising that plutonomy is in the heart of almost every region on earth except perhaps for the Nordic socialist regimes ?

Latest headlines
* CEOs in UK earning 143 times more than their staff average : CNBC
* In China the poorest 25% of citizens account for 1% of wealth : Ian Bremmer
* US income gap widest in decades, based on housing market : RT
* US Retirement: A third have less than $1,000 put away : USA Today
* One in six children in Japan is living in poverty, government figures, cited by the Yomiuri : Straits Times

Where are the babies coming from ? when 2014 is supposed to be the Peak Birth year for the world with 139 million births when South Koreans are alarmed by the fact that they are headed for extinction by the year 2750 (source :The Telegraph ) and college fees are inflating at an alarming rate of 500% since 1985 (source : Bloomberg).

* Population boom: 40% of all humans will be African by end of century : Globe and Mail
* Japan’s population woes intensify as it records fewer than 500,000 births in first half of year : Japan Times
* By 2050, Nigeria will account for almost 1 in 10 births worldwide : BBC

It really depends, doesn’t it ? Whether we start viewing those offsprings as a commodity or a precious seed of your gene pool ?

And it wasn’t very long ago that Japanese did view those children as an economic asset. Just watch Oshin, the movie and the cute little munchkin slaving away at a tender age of 6 to feed her entire family.

Make no mistake, that is happening in Africa, India, Philippines and you name the country with lowest GDP per capita.

In fact, we even read of the cases of women having children to boost their social security benefits in some developed countries like the UK.

Check out this table I have compiled for Asia, throwing in Nigeria for comparison.


Birth and Death is a rich man’s problem.

I know of couples who would not have children because of cost reasons and the fear of being unable to provide for them or those who will not have children because they fear they will not be able to provide for themselves in their old age.

The poorer nations have less of an aging problem because people do not live very long without medical science to prolong lives. And as long as the country remains poor, the probability of living to 65 ? hmmm….

What about us ?

Without spending the $245k on a single child, part of that money could go into retirement savings, for instance. And think of all worries saved that goes a long way in preserving mental health ?

Research has shown that parenthood in developed countries can make people miserable. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2284776/Can-parenthood-make-miserable-How-couples-children-LESS-happy-theyre-married-earn-50-000.html

And if we need anecdotal evidence, look no further than China.

“one old man who wanted to commit suicide but feared that his children would not bury him, so he dug a hole, lowered himself into it, and drank pesticide while burying himself.” Source : China.org http://www.china.org.cn/china/2014-08/05/content_33148303.htm

“a migrant son came home to see his dying father after asking for a seven-day leave from his office. But when two or three days had passed and his father was still alive, the son asked, “Are you really going to die? I only have seven days to deal with you.” Then the old man committed suicide, and the son held a funeral for him and then went back to work” Source : Epoch Times http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/863657-elderly-suicide-rapidly-increasing-in-chinas-countryside/

Economic asset no more !

We may argue that these cases are anomalies but the truth is that in America, more adults (1/3 of Americans between 18-34)  are living at home with their parents and their parents have a problem with retiring due to persistent mortgage debt. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-28/boomer-wealth-depressed-by-mortgages-poses-u-s-spending-risk.html

And economics certainly cannot be the main consideration for having a child. I can name thousands of reasons people have kids whether they are aware or it or not, transcending emotional, psychological, religious and even medical needs.

Often, moved by the need for altruism, folks will donate more thangenerously to the various NGOs and child related charities.

The irony ?

Holding back on having children, we give to the rapid producer countries that are overflowing with them. And it will be many years before Nigeria discovers the China problem given that more Africans in extreme poverty than in 1990 according to the UN. http://bit.ly/1rJdtvx

When we run out of kids, we import workers to do the jobs like society has done for centuries, looking back to the days of Rome.

Meanwhile, I can still dream of dowry this specimen I have at home will fetch me one day.