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Economics Archives

August 17, 2013

The derangement of incentives

Turns out this childrearing stuff ain't cheap:

The annual report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, released yesterday, reveals that a middle-income family with a baby born last year can look forward to spending about $241,080 ($301,970 when adjusted for predicted inflation) to raise the little one over the next 17 years. That's a 2.6 percent increase from 2011, higher than the broader inflation rate. The study, which does not include payments for college, puts yearly spending on each child for a two-parent middle-income family at $12,600 to $14,700 in 2012.

Jonathan Last, in his What to Expect When No One's Expecting added in the opportunity costs of lost wages and promotions (for mothers who leave the workforce to raise children) and came up with a number over three times larger.

But remember, if you ever earn enough to save some capital to defray these costs, absolute justice demands that you cough up a big chunk of it to the government, to be distributed by (always perfectly virtuous) bureaucrats to other people; especially to the pension funds enjoyed by other people upon their retirement.

It's enough to make you wonder whether it even makes sense to work for a living at all.