Last month James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute suggested in The Week magazine that perhaps one way to spur economic growth in the U.S. is to encourage families to have more children. He points out that fewer children mean fewer workers in the future and fewer tax dollars to pay for social programs. It's an interesting idea to say the least, one embraced by another world power...Russia.
Yahoo Finance asked economist and author Ben Stein what he thought of such an idea here in the states.
"I think it's an incredibly terrible Idea," he says. "I'm stunned that somebody coming out ot the American Enterprise Institute...would come up with that idea -- even if he was doing it as a joke it's not a very funny joke."
To be fair, Pethokoukis wasn't suggesting government mandated procreation, but rather incentives to grow the population. No matter how you slice it Stein says it simply wouldn't work.
"There's no evidence that countries that have larger numbers of children per family are richer than other countries," he argues. "In fact the evidence is entirely to the contrary.. But we know that when families in this country have children they often wind up being heroin addicts. That doesn't help the economy very much either."
Stein argues just because in some instances (white upper middle class instances he says) more children seem to equal more wealth, doesn't mean it's the children that caused it. He backs it up by positing, "the lower income groups in this country have by far the highest number of children per family."
Actual data aside, Stein says anything resembling such a plan is simply out of touch with the reality of parenting.
"I think the person that wrote this article must not be a parent because it's an incredible amount of work being a parent," he says. "To wish that upon anybody, to force anyone to undertake that kind of labor is akin to enforced and involuntary servitude. It's an incredible expense to have children so let's not have government telling us how many children we can have."
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- Personal Finance - Lifestyle
- American Enterprise Institute
- Ben Stein