June 19, 2010


Having children is not a random accident. It is the direct result of a deliberate act. Other animals, having more sense than humans, refrain from sex when times are bad. But people, in the worst of times and the worst of situations, go on reproducing. In fact, there is a very strong relation between wealth of parents and the size of their families; the poorest families produce the most children.

There are cultures which consider children as an old age pension. This is most common in the poorest areas of the world. In such a culture, there is a definite economic advantage to large families, but essentially, parents are breeding future slaves. That’s not a culture of freedom and as old cultural traditions die out, parents may find themselves abandoned in their old age.

In richer areas of the world, governments actually subsidize children. In the USA, children count as tax deductions. Public schools are supported out of general taxes so education is “free”. The cost is socialized. Public schools may provide free lunches. If you live on welfare, your income increases as you have more children. Dependent children will help to qualify you for food stamps.

In short, government, by trying to protect children from poverty, is subsidizing their parents, making it easier to breed and burdening the taxpayers with the results. This is, of course unfair to the taxpayers, and to the children.

So how many children should each family produce? In a system of freedom, parents should make that decision. But that decision should be made with the realization of full responsibility to prepare the children to become self- supporting adults.

The world is getting crowded. At some point, any additional population will reduce the living standards of everybody. If your thinking is authoritarian, you might call for forced limitation of family size, as China did for many years. If your thinking is inclined to individual freedom, you must accept the right of families to decide. But we shouldn’t tilt the families’ incentives by subsidizing their children. With freedom to choose comes responsibility for the choice.


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