"Not long ago we worried about baby booms and overpopulation. Now some people are worrying about a "Global Baby Bust." Writing in Foreign Affairs, Phillip Longman says it's mostly because of economics:
In nations rich and poor, under all forms of government, as more and more of the world's population moves to urban areas in which children offer little or no economic reward to their parents, and as women acquire economic opportunities and reproductive control, the social and financial costs of childbearing continue to rise.He's clearly right about the economics. Children used to provide cheap labor and retirement security, all in one. Now they're pretty much all cost and no return, from a financial perspective. That suggests that subsidies might solve the problem. Vladimir Putin thinks so, as he plans to offer generous parental benefits to encourage citizens to have more children, something that's necessary as Russia's population is in absolute decline. Italy, which is also in demographic free-fall, is doing something similar." Read More.
In the United States, the direct cost of raising a middle-class child born this year through age 18, according to the Department of Agriculture, exceeds $200,000--not including college. And the cost in forgone wages can easily exceed $1 million, even for families with modest earning power. Meanwhile, although Social Security and private pension plans depend critically on the human capital created by parents, they offer the same benefits, and often more, to those who avoid the burdens of raising a family.