Thursday, September 03, 2009

We get it, already - kids are expensive!

What the heck is going on out there that I am finding so many articles and opinion pieces about children being too costly? Yesterday, the Ben Stein column in Fortune. Today, I read two posts in a row at Boston Gal's blog with links to stories on the opportunity costs of children.

Finances Before Family
The Boston Globe story: Money before baby? has reporter Jessica Cerretani confessing that the great recession has done more than just shrink her 401(k) balance or jeopardize her financial security. It may have torpedoed her plans to ever have a biological child.


Advice given through lens of economic principles
The NPR story: Priceless Advice From 'The Undercover Economist' interviews Financial Times advice columnist Tim Harford who answers readers questions from a ruthless economic-consideration-first perspective. The interview provides a excerpt from his book (based on six years of advice columns)and below is one column that seemed to go along with yesterday's post.

Dear Economist,

I'm an ambitious woman in my midtwenties, just starting what I hope will be a stellar career in business. But I also very much want to have at least one child. How long should I wait?

Yours sincerely,

Ms. E. Jones

Dear Ms. Jones,

Mothers seem to do worse in the labor market than women without children, but that might not be simple cause and effect. For instance, it might indicate that women who expected successful careers delayed having children, but the delay was not the cause of the success.

It all seems imponderable, but it isn't. Amalia Miller, an economist at the University of Virginia, studied the timing of maternity and its effect on earnings. That effect is large: delay maternity by just one year, and you can expect your career earnings to rise by 10 percent, partly because you will work longer hours and partly because you will enjoy a better wage rate. For professionals like you, the wage effect is even higher.

Ugh. I feel the compelling need at this point to defend my three children and the pre-30s timing by pointing out the non-monetary compensation they bring to my life. Call it silly, but there is something quite wonderful about the social, emotional and spiritual richness of my life which I'd not have had without them. There's plenty of time for career and travel later. After all, 50 might just turn out to be the new 25 by the time I get there.

No comments: