Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Shannon Love:
"Economically, every society needs children.

Children are the producers of the future This means that children are in a sense a necessary economic good. A society that does not produce enough children, or that cannot produce enough children who grow into economically productive adults, is doomed to poverty. Every long-term investment we make, whether in the private or public sector, is predicated on the idea that there will be a future generation which will actually produce a return. It doesn't matter what economic or political system rules the present, it will need children to secure its future. Even the most self-centered individual would eventual realize that if the next generation cannot produce, his own welfare will suffer.

So, collectively we all need children and benefit when they grow into productive adults, but the cost of raising children is increasingly being borne by fewer and fewer in the general population.

Childless adults are rapidly becoming economic free riders on the backs of parents."
What does this sound like to you? Does this mean we should think there is a role for government in correcting a market failure with respect to children due to free rider behavior? What sorts of public policy might be consistent with economic efficiency to correct such an asserted market failure?

Or, perhaps, the reasoning offered above should be seen as another example of externality abuse?

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