Greedy Goblin

Monday, June 6, 2016

Why there are no kids in the developed countries?

Real life post incoming. I was reading the news about the French worker unions being on strike (in every other country their activity would be considered rebellion) because of the labor law reforms which were introduced to increase employment. It's common sense among economists that strict labor laws decrease employment as the company must be very sure that they need a worker and that they need that particular applicant, because after he is hired, they'll have hell getting rid of him if they were wrong. The unions know this just as well, but they protect the already employed union members against - not the companies - but the currently unemployed ones.

Then I was reading an article about responsive parenting and how important it is to immediately be there if your child is crying and how horrible it is to leave the child alone even for minutes. Then it somehow clicked to me that the two are connected and explain why there is so low fertility rate in the developed countries, while in much poorer countries (and among the poor in the rich countries) it's much higher, despite obviously worse nurturing conditions. This is usually explained by individualism or "selfishness". I'm now sure it's wrong, the problem is the very opposite.

According to the current Western ideas, the child deserves everything. It's not just about immediate and unconditional responsiveness, but also the "must not discipline" and "must buy everything" and so on. It's called "child centered" society, which is just as good for fertility as "worker centered" labor laws for employment, for the same reason: the more expensive (financially, time-wise and emotionally) parenting is, the less people will choose it.

In our grandparents time if your kids got food, shelter, education and health care, you were considered a good parent. If you couldn't give the best contemporary parenting, no one cared. "Abuse" was only used for outrageous actions like rape or injuring the kid, not for shouting at him or slapping his wrist when he sets the cat on fire. If you had 4 kids and both parents had to go out, it was OK to leave them at the care of the oldest. Child toys were "extremely dangerous" by current standards. Accidents happened and some kids died. "God gave him and God took him away" - they said and moved on. But most of the kids didn't die and they became our parents, despite not only the parenting, but the general conditions were much worse.

Today's laws and especially the culture are very different and extremely demanding towards parents. Our grandparents would be in jail in a day for what they did to our parents. And even if you clear the legal stuff (which chains you into 24/7 slavery for the little brat), there is the public social demands. I know, you should ignore it, but most people can't. And it gets worse every day. I found groups mourning miscarriage like they were deaths. Granny would have just shrugged and got pregnant again in a few months. The result: less and less people find themselves good enough to be a parent. It's not about they are selfish, it's they are selfless and believe that they can't give enough. The exception is of course the poor, who don't read such nonsense and too uneducated to prevent a pregnancy anyway. And behold: their kids grow up too.

I'm 100% sure that the best way to greatly increase fertility in the developed countries would be abolishing 90% of the child-protection laws, limiting parents only from obviously malicious child-harming and giving them legal amnesty from consequences of accidents of their children. If they forget their kid in the car, the cop should only rescue him and when the parents arrive, explain them that they were stupid instead of arresting them. Also consider it abuse if someone criticizes the parenting of other unless asked or advising against clear and present danger at the kid. If someone says "X is bad parenting" publicly, he should be treated the same way as someone saying something openly racist.

The point is to create a parent centered culture instead of child-centered. Of course provide cheap nursery and after-school care where you can leave your kid if you have better things to do. Yes, I know that cheap isn't "the best care". But guess what, not receiving the best care is much better than not being born!


Ael said...

France has done a very good job maintaining fertility rate.

The secret appears to be providing support for women to both work and have kids

Manserk said...

Why would we want to increase fertility in the West ? There are ~7B Humans on earth, this is already too much in my opinion.

Hanura H'arasch said...

Reminds me of the fact that my father, despite making stupid amounts of money, never bought me overly expensive things. You want that 1000€ laptop? Luckily you got summer holidays where you can work to earn that money! I didn't understand his reasoning at first, but I do these days.

I have a question for you as well though, what's the goblin approach to having children? After all, they are investments that typically don't pay off for the individual, yet obviously someone needs to have some or our society dies. And as some philosopher pointed out it's also a problem that is best solved by generalists, not specialists.

PS: Your old new logo didn't quite seem right to me for some time now, but I couldn't quite point my finger to exactly why that was. Now I know why: you used "anti-social" where it clearly should've been "asocial".

This is probably some relic of bad English skills in the past, but I found it worthwhile to point out nonetheless.

Azuriel said...

The declining Western birthrate has more or less reversed these days. Moreover, it is quite a stretch to attribute child-centric behavior to the initial decline. If anything, it was a symptom of the larger problems of A) increasing costs of child-rearing, B) women working outside the home, and C) declining purchasing power. This isn't the 50s anymore, when a single man can support a 4+ person household by himself. Nor do many women want to have 3+ kids and otherwise forgo a successful career.

Now that everyone pretty much has only 1-2 kids, it becomes very important to, you know, keep that one child alive. It's an effect, not a cause.

Anonymous said...

You left out two small and two big points.
One small point is it's less that people don't think they're good enough for not giving the best care, but giving more resources increases the chance of the kid growing into a better adult. (Or having a job at all once automation starts taking over more things. The "child-centered" kids will end up here.) Most high income families have only one kid, rarely two. Every country has lower birth rates the more advanced they become.
The other is college kids either have "long adolescense," partying and don't think about "adult life" until later, or they work and study hard to get the higher paying jobs and "don't have time" for raising children.

One big point is because of those two, people get pregnant at a later age, increasing the odds of birth defects and neurological disorders. So some choose not to have kids.
The other is the effects of overpopulation. Unless we can get man on Mars very soon, there's no choice but to lower the birth rate.

I totally agree that the "child-centered" laws are ridiculous, but parent-centered culture isn't the answer. The answer is to make a future-centered "hit M&S" culture (child-centered guys are morons, "don't have time"/partying guys are slackers).

Anonymous said...

" I found groups mourning miscarriage like they were deaths. Granny would have just shrugged and got pregnant again in a few months"

Granny would have still been visiting the grave years later. Late miscarriages are like deaths. You give birth to a child you know will be dead on arrival.

Gevlon said...

@Ael: women of earlier ages and poor unemployed women of contemporary age has no problem having kids without support. Why?

@Manserk: because 90% of the 7B are barely literates and won't contribute to the mankind after robots can do the menial jobs they are doing now (if any).

@Hanura: having a child is to make the World better by creating another person who is above average in performance. It's not a selfish act, you won't be rewarded for it. Not even "emotionally" as your kid will be working a continent away and only visits you a few times a year.

A: "increased cost of child" is merely re-formulating "child centered parenting".
C: GDP has increased since the fifties greatly. How come that income decreased? It didn't. Merely the standards of "decent life" increased more, especially in the field of child-caring.
B: Women are working outside because of C

@Anon: "child-centered" kids will most likely end up as entitled man-children demanding welfare, since they got used to that someone instantly satisfy their demands.
- High-income countries having less children is the problem being discussed, not the explanation.
- "long adolescence" is a product of child-centered parenting. If my dad would try to have long adolescence, my granddad would have kicked his lazy butt out of home.
- overpopulation happens in third world countries and no-go zones. The native population of European countries decrease.

@Last anon: can you show a single grave of miscarriage from before 1990? I haven't seen one in any cemetery.

luobote kong said...

French youth unemployment is currently around 24 percent. The demonstrably broken neoliberal policies (IMF, OECD,,,) you espouse result in there being no business case for children. It's not rocket science that kids without a purpose might get rebellious. The "let them eat cake" policy didn't work so well either did it? Unless you were called Napoleon that is.

Gevlon said...

@lubote kong: the main reason of the youth unemployment is entitlement. Current youth have greatly overestimated idea of their business value, so they overdemand salary and position and refuse to take lower ones. There would be jobs, they just won't take them but keep sending their CVs to high-paying positions where the HR guy dump it into the dustbin after reading the "past experiences" part (or lack of it).

Anonymous said...

Actually it's not only Western countries. Eastern Europe has same, if not worse, problem. Similar situation in developed Asian countries.

Gevlon said...

@Last anon: my bad, replacing "Western" with "developed"

luobote kong said...

In the UK, zero hour contracts and unpaid internships have become the norm. This hasn't made the economy more productive. Less so in fact as employers have less need to innovate or invest in automation. Trickle down economics is a myth. Blaming the poor for being poor or having an unrealistic sense of entitlement is just part of the broken economic mantra we have been fed for the last 40 years. Your opinion is eloquently put but data which you normally respect just doesn't support your conclusion.

Kontalaa said...

You can find a similar story like in all developed countries..

Andru said...

So. 90% of 7B are useless and will be replaced by machines. Therefore, your solution make more children? Hey, maybe those will not be as useless!

By definition, 50% of those new children will be below average. Not everyone can become a medic or engineer, and the world needs only so many ditch-diggers. Robots do ditch figging faster, cheaper, work all night and only require as much pay as they need to 'live', and no one cries or doesn't vote for you anymore if their robot child 'dies' due to laxer workplace regulations.

Youth employment is a problem everywhere in the developing world. "Lazy entitled bums, should get a job." rhetoric is a neoconservative talking point that solves nothing. And adding MORE children to the pile is going to solve even more nothing.

We're not luddites anymore. Robots are coming and will take most jobs. Increasing population is a lost cause, doesn't matter if you-re neoliberal or social-democrat.

Gevlon said...

@Andru: not random children, children who inherit the values of educated people.

Anonymous said...

Wait. M&S are to stupid to reinstall windows. and you want that these people to reproduce, generating more M&S. What ever we do to increase fertility rates of people we want to reproduce the M&S will be on top.
click this see 7.4*10^9 ... you want more people? please elaborate why?
The only reason I want more idiots in this world so I can exploit them out of their money and make them my financial slaves. At no point will I ever try to educate these people because every breath is wasted on them. This blog shows on so many occasions how these idiots operate and that you can't beat sense into them no matter what.

Don't be social. ever!

Gevlon said...

M&S will reproduce regardless of what we do. The "child centered" crap only affect those who wish to be good parents. They are likely social, though laws affect asocial too.

Tithian said...

What you're describing is pretty much embedded in our genes, and our desire to pass them to offspring. People have a lot of children in 3rd world countries dut to the increased mortality rates; if 40% of newborn children die, then by having 5 children you are statistically ensured that 3 of them will make it to adulthood.

This is not common to just humans, all animals have a number of offspring porpotional to their place in the food chain; i.e. small rodents have dozens of them because a good majority of those will be food to the larger predators. It's evolution.

Now people have just 1 child (or maybe 2) not due to not having money to raise them (again, you are from Eastern Europe, I'm sure you're familiar with Gypsies and how extended their families are, as well as their living conditions), but due to gender roles having shifted. Women want careers first and childern later (occasionally 'later' becoming 'never' due to biology), and the traditional family values that were embedded in men have been replaced with the pursuit of 'success' and 'wealth'. Add to that the rampart rise of 'radical feminism' and you even have men forgoing the formation of a family altogether. Ironically a few decades ago a successful man was one with a large family, but not anymore.

But all in all, I find that money and finacial factors are only minor contributors to this issue.

Gevlon said...

@Tithian: I never said the reason that people have no money to raise children. I said that due to the culture they believe they don't have enough money, since they don't afford all the bullshit that they are "supposed to" buy. Those who are primitive enough to don't even know about that are multiplying and clearly don't starve, so objectively even they have enough money.

"Women want careers first" is nonsense, as most of them never have any careers (just like most men). They have some crappy job they do for money, because they are indoctrinated that they need more money for anything, including having children.

maxim said...

The only thing i have to add this is that there is one more factor in decision to have kids - whether you expect them to carry on your life's work or not. If not, this desire is diminished (in modern world, it is more often than not the case).

A country with a good long-term (multi-generation) commonly accepted understanding of a mission tends to show higher birth rates across the board than a country with no long-term agenda.

In this light, i expect Western population to continue its decline (short-term reversals notwithstanding) at least until we either get around to colonizing space, or finally see a viable competition on civilizational level (China is a good candidate, but not quite there yet).

Anonymous said...

I was mostly with you until the miscarriage comment. My grandma had 6, and cried every time she talked about them. Sure she didn't have a grave site to visit but that makes the pain no less real.

From there the rest of the article reads as if it were written by some self righteous idiot sounding off in an echo chamber.

Also, considering that the household income has basically stagnated for the average US worker from the Reagan era in the US while inflation keeps prices going up literally means that at the very least people in the US are having a harder time raising a family.

Smokeman said...

To the "The world already has too many" people:

You can't use the earth's overpopulation as an excuse. Sure, third world countries have population problems, but since you can't really do anything about that, you control what you can do something about... your own borders.

Even at that, you don't need people filling every nook and cranny. Canada gets along fine with their measly 30 million, but Germany is somehow "wasting away" with 80 million? No.

The proper attitude is to NOT CARE what other countries do to themselves in that you have no control over them. Worry about your own country.

Gevlon is right, in developed countries, it's just too stupid hard to have kids because of the interference from society. No one wants that kind of pressure. In addition, we're addicted to expensive toys to the point where one parent can't stay home. If you lose the cable TV, the smart phones, the tablets, all the crap you don't need, you would suddenly find yourself with a lot more money. And oh hey... Grandma didn't have any of that crap.

David Caddock said...

Gevlon, are you and your girlfriend planning on having children?

NuTroll said...

The reasons people had more children were a relatively higher mortality rate and insurance against old age.

We have a low mortality rate (most children reach adulthood), and insurance via children has been replaced by Social security and 401k.

Hence we have less children because we need less children (not a conscious decision), all other explanations are mixing causation with correlation.

Anonymous said...

"we can't afford to have children" isn't the main reason, but one of many, and often a rationalization.

The actual causes of low birthrates, especially among the highly educated are:

the education itself + career: a woman's most fertile years are from 16-26. As a matter of fact, given the probability of conception per month, if you want to have a 90% chance of 3 children, you need to start trying at twenty two If you're having your first child at 35? Its most likely going to be your last.

the pill: turns out that messing with your hormones over a long period impairs fertility, as well as impairs your ability to choose men you will still be attracted to when you are off the pill.

religiosity and the lack thereof: turns out the highly religious have lots of babies, even when the mother has a doctorate. Religiosity, however, is lowest among the highly educated, and has plummeted in general.

societal condemnation of large families: "breeder", "don't you know about contraception", "you're contributing to (insert environmental problem)" "you poor brainwashed woman"

dysgenic effects arising from advances in medical science: lots of women used to die in their first childbirth. They don't anymore, they have complications that limit them to one or two children. And their daughters inherit their problems.

the Anomie that comes from living in overpopulated cities, where you might interact with dozens to hundreds of strangers every day, and your brain assumes them to be threats. and since pregnancy and perceived danger (even if its only on a subconscious level) don't mix... and ethnic diversity amplifies this.

Maxim's point about lack of civilizational purpose. In fact, what they hear is that western civilization in particular is evil, that it is the cause of african/ME/asian misery. Your purpose is to die and usher in our glorious post-western future.

And probably others I'm forgetting.

Azuriel said...

C: GDP has increased since the fifties greatly. How come that income decreased? It didn't. Merely the standards of "decent life" increased more, especially in the field of child-caring.

Factually incorrect. Wage growth and GDP have been divorced since the 80s. We're all producing more, but the profit is getting vacuumed up by the 1%.

tweell said...

the increase in children in France is due to immigration of Muslims from the Middle East. The Gaullish French have a birth rate of 1.4, the Muslims have a birth rate of ~6. Expect the Muslims to be running France in 40 years or so. Germany will be next.

Anonymous said...

Usually you dont compare kids with pets, but in this topic its on the point.

How many families have cat or dog, instead of a kid? Because its cheaper and there is way less legal problems to own a pet then a kid. And result of that is the pet is more often prefebale first choice to own instead of a kid.

Anonymous said...

I get what you're saying now. You want developed/good value people to have more children relative to the rest. The problem with your answer is that it's not a problem at all, and it is based on a bell-shaped view of society with regards to wealth.

All else being equal, to have above-average kids you must pay above-average cost; however massive income inequality creates a large right skew. The above-average cost is significantly higher than what the above-average person can afford, even after they become parent centered and stop wasting money on crap. Having more kids makes the gap even wider, unless you want them to lower their standards...but that goes right back to the automation problem. (More on that later.)

>women of earlier ages and poor unemployed women of contemporary age has no problem having kids without support.
Government assistance, welfare, housing, food stamps, relying on other family, charter schools , all examples of support.

>overpopulation happens in third world countries and no-go zones.
The current migration is a good example of what would happen should the population have increased through more births. Even in utopia where everyone is useful, today's average becomes tomorrow's poor, and the government programs will still need to take care of them. (No one wants to live with starving bodies lining the streets.)

>the main reason of the youth unemployment is entitlement
>There would be jobs, they just won't take them
Sheer ignorance and typical boomer attitude.

Not just youth, everyone have problems with employment because increased populations = more people trying to fill the same amount of jobs, and increased technology = fewer jobs AND higher skills necessary to fill what's left ("children who inherit the values of educated people" go here), AND high skills job are necessarily few in number because they lead several positions below them (that are being replaced by robots and automation.) That's before factoring in cheap immigrant / overseas workers being used instead. You've made many posts about this yourself. "Anyone can work at Walmart or McDonald's; they just choose not to" is not a valid statement in 2016.

Even if the Walmart line were true, it would be a non-option for educated children because they need a job that pays enough to clear their tuition debt.

The partial solution for this is incresed entrepreneuership, which most people can't do because most people aren't the leader type.

>they are indoctrinated that they need more money for anything, including having children.
Now let's get back to automation one more time.

Livable wage does not equal minimum wage—employers will pay as little as the people will accept—therefore the standards of living increase at a rate higher than people's salaries.. You need to make AT LEAST that much to raise an average child or better. Coupling this with the increasing floor of jobs creates the current situation. Technology isn't taking away the bottom of the barrel jobs, it's taking away the AVERAGE jobs. M&S are much closer to the human average than you think.

If I recall correctly, 53% of all men's jobs in America are in transportation. Self-driving cars will become the norm within 20 years. The average family's income will be wiped out. Then you have to look at the effect on relevant industries. "Robots will not be eating in diners, buying truck stop/convenience store products, renting motel rooms, or engaging any of the rest of those secondary functions that directly support the trucking business." People are ALREADY scaling back, renting smaller homes, buying less crap just to keep up. The average educated family is moving closer and closer to poverty.

The lack of high-income children isn't a problem; it's the natural state of things. The problem is how little the average and above-average gets you compared to the past and to the rich.

Hanura H'arasch said...


Can't you read your own graph? It shows that real median wage has stagnated, not decreased. Arguing that today's parents can't raise as many children as parents 40 years ago with exactly the same standard of living is stupid.

Anonymous said...

Let me leave one more comment addressing the idea of entitlement within the current generation. "All you have to do is look him in the eye, give him a firm handshake, and you can get yourself a job." It's practically a meme at this point.

Entitlement and laziness DOES exist, but that's not all there is to it. The issue lies in the scope of your perspective. In the old days, it was relatively easy to be successful. Today, not only is it relatively more difficult to be successful, the absolute value of success itself has risen. Gevlon even made a post about this: when loggers made chainsaws, axemen could still make a living (the old days). When forestry machines were invented, axemen stood no chance (today). Yesterday's successes aren't good enough today. From another post: even if you go back to school to meet today's requirements, you still need to make money to have a roof and food until you're finished.

If US minimum wage kept up with productivity, it would be $22 an hour today (and some think even that is hard to live off of). Median household income for 2015 ranges from 44-55k, ~25k per person, yet 67% of individuals made less than the average (44k according to CNBC, which is nearly equal to $22 an hour! ) The numbers don't lie, "culture" be damned. Simply saying people turn down jobs and yesterday's effort is good enough today is incorrigibly ignorant.

You could (try to) raise today's kids by yesterday's standards, but that would just create more M&S!

Anonymous said...

The theory that labor regulation causes increased unemployment in any meaningful negative way has been discredited years ago, along with the long-term Phillips curve and Laffer curve. You can tell the serious economists from the quacks and the folk who just parrot whatever they hear on their favorite TV station by whether they reference the above.

Start with first principles. You (Gevlon) don't burn your paycheck, and neither (we can safely assume) do other workers. Instead you spend it on stuff, or put it into a bank or fund who will then spend it for you. The people you buy stuff from go on and spend their money on stuff. So the money you spend circulates through the economy, creating demand for a multitude of products and services in excess of its face value. Every dollar spent thereby has a multiplicative impact on the aggregate economic activity, regardless of who spends it and on what.

As an aside. Obviously, not everyone spends all of their income immediately, or even ever. The fraction of income spent is called the "marginal propensity to consume." It is inversely proportional to income. As income rises, the propensity to consume falls, regardless of culture.

Now, the multiplier works the other way as well. Every dollar not spent represents more than its face value in lost economic activity.

Let's take two economies now. Call the first one, Gilded Age, and the second Social Democracy. Gilded Age has no labor regulations, and Social Democracy has the regulations we associate with filthy pinko socialist countries like France or Sweden.

At the start of the business cycle, businesses in the Gilded Age see an uptick in demand. In response, they increase production. To increase production, they hire workers. Lots of workers, because they know they can fire them whenever they want. The workers hired off the bread line now have money, and they spend it. Probably on better food. Our Kynesian multiplier goes into effect, the workers' spending reverberates through the economy, and shows up as increased demand for businesses' products. The businesses hire even more workers. The economy expands, until the business cycle reverses because of a popped bubble or ten. Now the businesses see a downturn in demand, and they fire workers. Fired workers on the breadline don't spend money on products, which again reverberates through the economy as declining demand. Businesses see the further downturn in demand, and fire even more workers. Cue a recession or depression. Eventually employment stabilizes, demand goes up, and we start the treadmill again.

Now let's look at the Social Democracy economy. At the start of its business cycle, its businesses don't hire that many workers because they know good times will come to an end and they will have to still pay those workers. There's a lesser uptick in demand, and a lesser uptick in new hires. The bubbles aren't as spectacular, the hiring frenzies aren't as frenzied, and in general the businesses don't show nearly as spectacular profits, so shareholders whine about inadequate profits. Then the business cycle reverses, but workers aren't getting fired en-masse, so there's no downward spiral.

Now, which economy would you rather work in? The one which throws you out into the street every six to ten years, or the one that gives you stability? Where would you rather buy a house, raise a family, and live? Mind that we're ignoring the social costs of unemployment and instability, which really should also be taken into account.

Anonymous said...

Of course, competent economists look at the real world, unlike neoliberal economists who are basically just right-wing Marxists and refuse to accept data contradicting their views. In the real world, we have countries like France, the Scandinavias, Japan, and China. These countries have decent labor and social welfare laws, and enacted good stimuluses to keep folk employed during the 2008 recession. China used the super-low interest rates during the recession to invest in its rail and urban infrastructure, for example. They did quite well. We then have countries like the US and England, which have weaker labor and social laws and passed weaker stimulii, and they are doing OK. And then we have the countries that gutted their labor laws and passed 'austerity' measures after the recession, like Italy and Greece, and they're circling the toilet bowl. In other words, gutting labor laws and the social safety net for the sake of economic growth ultimately does not give you meaningful economic growth and pisses people off.

Anonymous said...

In the olden days, having a bunch of "brats" that helped with the house hold and took care of you once you were old was a benefit to the parent.
Today, having a bunch of "brats" is a load on the parent, like you say both physically and economically.

Was a benefit, is now a hassle. Simple as that.

arthur wellsley said...

So I obtained my first, second, and then third universtiy degrees, obtained a higher than average income, and decided that I needed to do my bit to out breed the M & S. I have four kids. Given that in the UK putting kids through fee paying school gives them an advantage statistically (better jobs, higher income, better health etc) I decided this was an investment I would make for them. Roughly speaking the cost to me was £250,000-£300,000 per child from net income after tax. I have not purchased consumer electronics etc for them, they must earn their own money to purchase such items. If they want a "gap" year between ending school and starting university, that's their choice but I'm not paying for it.

My rough and ready guess is that if you earn your country's national average income, you cannot really afford a child. If you earn twice the average income you can afford one. To afford two you need to earn four times the average income, three children six times the average income, and four children requires the parent to earn eight times the average income.

It's the sheer damn cost of kids in developed countries that puts middle earners off reproducing. Sure the under class (M & S) can reproduce at will, as can the 1% at the top (if they choose to). But it's the "squeezed middle" that probably cannot afford more than one or two children.

I do not accept Gevlon's assertions that it has anything to do with child protection laws. Children = cost, children like attention (time), and lets face it teaching a child to read, or do maths is a grind (time is money friend), but it has the satisfaction of producing a well read, literate, and numerate individual (it looks and sounds a bit like you if you did it right), which provides a certain amount of non-monetary satisfaction for the parent(worthless pixel shiny sword for your grind anybody?).

Gevlon said...

@Arthur: so you claim that the lowest class can afford to have kids and the middle does not? You realize that it makes no sense?

The problem is that while the private education DOES give an advantage, it's not necessary. Any of us would rather be a disadvantaged kid than a "no kid". You - and most middle class - assume that not giving all the advantage make you bad parents. It doesn't.

Azuriel said...

@Hanura H'arasch

Wages have not kept pace even a tiny bit with GDP growth, which is my point. But if you want to directly compare standard of living in the 50s with today, here you go. TL:DR: the ratio of income to costs in the 50s was 2.2 for houses and 0.45 for cars; today it is 3.7 and 0.61. College was 0.18 then, and 0.79 now. We expect more iPhones these days, but those costs pale in comparison to the fundamental things our parents/grandparents could own with one income.

Toto Abicyclette said...

"I was reading the news about the French worker unions being on strike (in every other country their activity would be considered rebellion) because of the labor law reforms which were introduced to increase employment."


This law is presented by the government as a way to increase employment, but -double speech- it is in reality a way to get rid of a whole chapter about the protection of the workers facing arbitrary decisions from their boss.
Mainstream media is not a reliable source of information, especially since the big newspapers here are in the hands of the fat cats : Le Figaro is held by Serge Dassault, the aeroplane/missile guy ; Libération is held by a Rotschild fund ; Le Monde is partially owned by Xavier Niel, the founder of that Internet/Telco provider, etc.

French newspapers are not a reliable source of information about what's going on here.
Otherwise, I like what you write :)

arthur wellsley said...

"Arthur: so you claim that the lowest class can afford to have kids and the middle does not? You realize that it makes no sense?"

M & S "I want the best for my kid" - then does nothing about it. Result, kid still M & S. But can afford to have numerous kids.

Middle class "I want the best for my kid" - only produces one or maybe two kids so that they can actually attempt to do the best for the offspring, but as not one of the elite earners thats all they can afford.

1% "I want the nest for my kid" - is so wealthy can do the best for as many offspring as wishes to produce.

I suppose you are correct I should have qualified the statement. M & S can afford to have as many M & S kids as they like, money and quality of the child are immaterial to them.

Middle class generally want to produce a quality product (a child in this instance), and feel the need to expend time and money creating that quality product. There is a limit on their time and money and so they are constrained by those elements to have fewer children.

You are also right that each of us would rather be a disadvantaged kid than no kid. But as a parent you would rather want an advanataged kid or maybe two, rather than a pack of disadvantaged kids if you are a step above M & S as a parent.

Anonymous said...

It's also just about money. Having a child and providing it with the necessary things to be successful costs $250'000 or more, and will take countless hours of your time. Many people just choose not to do that, because the economic impact on their lives is immense.