• 37°

Are children worth the money?

When my wife and I decided to have a child, we didn’t check our wallets first. We put little consideration into whether we had enough money to raise a child.

Growing up, I regularly heard stories of how my parents barely scraped by in their small apartment, sacrificing the only heater for the baby’s room instead of their own.

In 1968, my parents struggled to pay for college and diapers. I guess I figured if they were able to do it back then, I would be able to do it now. After all, I was 20 years out of college and both my wife and I had steady jobs.

So when I heard how much money the federal government estimates it takes to raise a child, I felt a slight pain in my back pocket.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, by the age of 17, a child’s price tag approaches a quarter of a million dollars and is heading higher. A child born into a middle-income family in 2009 will cost an estimated $286,000 by 2026. Lower income families spend less; the cost of raising a child between 2008 and 2025 will be $206,000. For high-income families the price tag is estimated at $476,000.

Since the government issued its report last month, there has been an interesting conversation shaping up on the Internet and in a few national media outlets.

“Are kids worth the money?” American Public Media asked on their Web site in connection to an article featuring Marketplace Money’s personal finance editor Chris Farrell.

Responding to the government’s report, Farrell mentioned conservative economic commentator Ben Stein, who once lamented that children today are “too much cost, too little reward.”

His reference to Stein’s attitude raised my curiosity enough that I spent some time ferreting out Stein’s original Fortune Magazine article.

In the article, Stein essentially makes the argument that the value of child has changed greatly since the days when children assisted parents with chores on the farm, on the ranch or in the village.

“The kids did not require much — just food and shelter and occasional loving and cuffing about to keep them in line.”

In the modern society, the tables have been turned, Stein says. Child rearing is “part unpaid chauffeur, part torture,” he writes. Parents struggle like galley slaves to make sure their children attend the right school, while paying exorbitant sums of money for ballet, soccer, music and chess lessons.

“And after graduation day, what do you get for having the system holding you by the ankles and shaking all the money out of your pockets?” he bemoans.

In a free society, Stein points out that people choose to have more of something if the return exceeds the cost. Likewise people choose to have less of something if its value is less than its cost.

Stein wonders if the reason for the plummeting birthrate in America’s upper and middle class is because the value is so low relative to its cost.

It’s an interesting thought. But when I walk into my son’s bedroom every morning to lift him out of his crib, there is no doubt in my mind that Ben Stein has at least one half of the equation wrong.

Too much cost? Maybe.

Too little reward? Not a chance.

Ben Hillyer is the Web editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.

News

Season of Wishes: Christmas Tree fund in need of donations

News

Trinity Medical cuts ribbon, hopes to be open in January

News

Adams County included in Gov. Reeves’ mask mandate

News

$20.7M contract awarded for new Natchez High School building

News

Natchez mayor elaborates on Christmas parade COVID-19 plans

News

Mississippi reports record number of virus hospitalizations

News

Vidalia pastor sets up GoFundMe account for niece who lost 3 children in Thanksgiving fire

News

Adams County records another COVID-19 death

News

Kyzar blends work, home life

News

Rep. Sam C. Mims, V, Awarded State Legislator of the Year by Rural Health Association

DEVELOPING NEWS

Natchez mayor announces change in Christmas parade plans after COVID-19 numbers spike

News

Bird’s-eye view: Artist with Natchez roots gives creations new perspective

News

Hundreds turnout for Natchez Christmas tree lighting Saturday night

BREAKING NEWS

Natchez-Adams schools to continue virtual learning only through December

News

E-911: Seconds can seem like minutes in emergencies (with audio)

COVID-19

Hospital CEO tests positive for COVID-19 as local cases rise

BREAKING NEWS

Flash flood warning issued for parts of Natchez

News

Hospitals using antibody therapy to help fight virus

News

Stewpot serves 300 Thanksgiving meals thanks to generous donations

News

Trash collection one day behind schedule for Thanksgiving

News

Ferriday man sentenced to life for 2019 slaying of Natchez schoolteacher

Business

Mayor: Silver Street raising and dock plans moving forward

News

Tree lighting event is Saturday in Natchez

News

Former Natchez Alderman David Massey dies at 72