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Posts Tagged ‘money’

Captain Hook Has A Point

Let’s start this with a video. Push play… wait… wait for it… almost there… OK, NOW!

So is Captain Hook right? Kids are a huge investment and the returns are negligible,  what this guy…

Bryan Caplan

…assumes to be the general sentiment of the populace . Maybe it’s true, I wouldn’t know, but it sounds like it isn’t something you’d be called crazy for saying. Anyway, this guy,

Bryan and Corina Caplan

pictured here during childless, pre-contact lense, perhaps happier, times, says that it’s a flawed generalization. You can read the article HERE.

1. Happiness research has shown that you feel the leak in your happiness tank the most with your first child, and that it lessens incrementally with each child, thereafter.

A closer look at the General Social Survey also reveals that child No. 1 does almost all the damage. Otherwise identical people with one child instead of none are 5.6 percentage points less likely to be very happy. Beyond that, additional children are almost a happiness free lunch. Each child after the first reduces your probability of being very happy by a mere .6 percentage points.

There was a time in our history when having more kids was an economic advantage. More kids meant more laborers. However, modern living has placed less need, less value, on child-rearing, a phenomena demonstrated by falling birth rates throughout the industrialized world. Let’s face it, until I have some hay to be baled, some utters to be tugged or seeds to be sown, having children would be a drag, and potentially impede my right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Not so, Caplan says, after the first one, you barely notice it.

This leads me to point two.

2. Parents have little to no influence over the kind of people their children will become. Studies have shown that a child’s projection is largely determined by biology.

Parents use many tactics to influence their kids’ schooling and future income. Some we admire: reading to kids, helping them with homework, praising hard work. Others we resent: fancy tutors, legacy admissions, nepotism. According to the research, however, these tactics barely work. Dartmouth economist Bruce Sacerdote studied about 1,200 families that adopted disadvantaged Korean children. The families spanned a broad range; they only needed incomes 25% above the poverty level to be eligible to adopt. Nevertheless, family income and neighborhood income had zero effect on adoptees’ ultimate success in school and work.

Interestingly enough, living in Korea, I have come to realize the tremendous amount parents sacrifice, with the hopes of rearing productive, successful, wealthy kids. With school, English lessons, Math lessons, piano lessons, taekwondo lessons, art lessons, some kids don’t make it home till around midnight. These lessons aren’t cheap.  Mothers take out huge loans to send their children abroad to study during their middle and high school years. “Idiots, all of them!” says Caplan. Your kids will end up the way God intended them to be so why don’t you shelve The Very Hungry Caterpillar and have a soak or make yourself a drink.

3. Child-rearing haters aren’t thinking about the long-term benefits of their potentially meager – as Caplan has shown – investments. Old age comes to most and during those years, it is a joy to be surrounded by loved ones.

As you weigh your options, don’t forget that the costs of kids are front-loaded, and the benefits are back-loaded. Babies are a lot of work even if you’re easy on yourself. But the older kids get, the more independent they become; eventually, you’ll want them to find time for you. So when weighing whether to have another child, you shouldn’t base your decision on how you feel after a few days—or months—of sleepless nights with a new baby. Focus on the big picture, consider the ideal number of children to have when you’re 30, 40, 60 and 80, and strike a happy medium. Remember: The more kids you have, the more grandkids you can expect. As an old saying goes, “If I had known grandchildren were this much fun I would have had them first.”

When I’m wrinkly and gray it’ll be nice to have someone to mow my lawn  and listen to the same rambling stories I’ve been telling my whole life.

So who’s right? Caplan or Captain Hook? I’m in no position to make any judgments on this topic. I just hope my folks didn’t have too terrible a time bringing me up, and that I’ll be able to make good on my debts eventually. Happy Father’s Day… and Mother’s Day.

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