The Economic Case for Having Kids

We have a fun episode today, and it was actually based on something that me and Jeremy do a lot where we’re reading articles, we’re watching videos, we’re reading books, and then, we like to share them with each other. Hey, have you read this? Hey, have you seen this? I think I just sent him an Atlantic article a couple of days ago on secretive parenting. That’s a fascinating article. Go read it. But the one that we’re going to talk about today, which was really, really, really well done was a TED talk from an expert journalist. Just probably, I don’t know, it came out just a couple of weeks ago when people are watching this, and it was on the economic case for having kids.

He admitted at the beginning, yes, people talk about the problems. Yes, you might say, “There’s overpopulation.” Yes, you might say it’s too difficult, and blah, blah, blah, he goes. But let’s look at the counterpoint. Is there any counterpoint? And a lot of us assume there isn’t, and there’s actually a massive amount of counterpoints, and there’s a lot of damage being done by us having less and less kids. So, Jeremy, what did you think about it? What did you see in there, and what was the fascinating points?

Yeah. What I liked about this talk was he put out the secular case for having large families or a lot of kids. I think this is important just to know, you may not want to have a large family, that may not be God’s plan for you. But, one of the things I really don’t like is if people feel guilty when they have the calling and the energy to raise a large, strong family, and feel, at a moral level, like they’re doing something bad to the world, to the environment, to the economy. And so,, he read some statistics that I thought were interesting. Again, this was just from a secular perspective, but I think it’s helpful to hear.

According to the World Health Organization, we need to average 2.1 children per woman today, just so we have enough people to replace the previous generation. A lot of you thought overpopulation was going to be a problem in a hundred years. Yeah, it might be under-population. A question, what happens if that number dips below 2.1? There’s going to be a domino effect. As all of us get older and live longer, there’s going to be a shrinking number of young people in the population, which is going to lead to rising labor shortages in the world’s biggest economies. I’m talking about the United States, China, Japan, Germany. Fewer young people working means less tax revenue. Less tax revenue means less money and resources to go on, for safety net programs that all of us are going to depend upon. I’m talking about pensions and healthcare. It seems every generation is indeed connected. He gave that case. He also talked about the environmental concerns people have.

And so, it’s just important to know that there are a lot of reasons to really look deeply into this question. And if God has given you guys a calling to have a large family, or you’re feeling like, “Hey, I think raising amazing kids, and developing a family team, and receiving God’s blessing of many different children and different kinds of kids at different levels into our family team,” I don’t think it’s a good idea to feel like you’re doing a disservice to the world or hurting the world. There’s a lot of people who are pulling back from having large families or having kids at all. And so, a lot of this is starting to even out. And a lot of people are becoming more concerned about under-population in demographic circles than overpopulation.

Yeah. And I think one of the fascinating things that I’ll add to end with is, like Jeremy said, what we’re saying is, I think people go off the deep end in religious circles when they actually make it gospel or law that you have to have more kids. So, that’s inherently right. Now,, there’s a tension there. But I think some people just lay that a little too thick, a little too heavy when it’s like, “No, you need to do what God has called you to do in obedience to the Holy Spirit.” And of course there’s sin, and infertility, and all these different problems, and complexities, and dynamics that are playing out. We’re not saying, “Just have a bunch more kids.” What we’re saying is, “Be obedient to the Holy Spirit with how many kids you think he wants you to have for your family team, and live in his design, in his vision, in his picture.”

But don’t make those decisions based on really poor, bad data, and cultural narratives. And that’s the current thing. I actually really struggle with this conversation because the data is so obvious. I feel like I can usually understand people’s points, but this one, it’s like, if you spend five minutes researching it, the overpopulation thing and the environmental thing is just really, really bad, weak arguments. Really significantly poor. And you can look at places like Japan, like you mentioned, where Japan is clearly 10, 20 years ahead of us on what it’ll look like if we take this path, and they are freaking out at a governmental level because they’re seeing an implosion about to happen because of their actual birth rate. And you can also look at the fact that it’s not necessarily overpopulation, but it’s how we actually consume resources, and how we actually live in the world as image bearers.

America has 4% of the world’s population, but consumes 25% of the world’s resources. So to me, that doesn’t sound like an overpopulation issue. It sounds like America needs to actually chill, and not just gorge themselves on everything, and maybe we’ll be fine. There’s a lot of different ways that we actually need to understand this in, but I want to end with exactly what you said, Jeremy. And that is that this cultural narrative is coming out now to feel guilty if you have more than two kids. And I think it might be zero kids, it might be adoption, might be foster care, might be five kids. Whatever it is, you need to not feel guilty, and feel like you can actually stand secure in the calling that God has put on you and your family team.

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