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What's a baby worth?

By Amanda Ponzar

BabyThis morning, NPR covered the "economic investment" some countries are making in babies -- "When governments pay people to have babies". (Interesting that some countries need to pay people when others are overrun with children; we've hit 7 billion people on the planet!)

It's all about the necessary replacement numbers a country needs to provide skilled workers and consumers to buy goods, plus get the funding/taxes needed to run the government and pay for all the programs.(Fyi, these need to be educated, hardworking citizens not children born into poverty who rely on the system to pay/care for them throughout their lives). Prosperous countries in Europe and elsewhere are using incentives to encourage citizens to have children. Germany pays up to $35k in maternity leave; Australia gives a $6k baby bonus. Many of the others have generous leave policies and other financial benefits.

It's interesting that many of these countries are still struggling to increase fertility rates and population numbers. WHY?

Because many women enjoy working and because BABIES ARE HARD! I have two kids; I know. Take it from Charles Dickens: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." The best is having a family (hugs, laughter, cuddles); the worst is lack of sleep, messy house, fussy kids and virtually no free time. Unless free time counts as washing bottles, doing laundry, sweeping crumbs, tidying toys and making dinner.

As a matter of fact, my baby is crying RIGHT NOW.

Don't get me wrong, I feel blessed to have a family. And I don't think we value kids or family as we should. Just a few months ago, some coworkers (all kid-less) were discussing their nightly TV rituals and I mentioned "Just think what you could get done if you watched less TV" when one of my coworkers shot back, "Just think what you could get done if you didn't have kids." ZING! (Well, hello, I wanted to say, aren't you glad your parents decided having you was worthwhile? Geez.)

SquirrelGranted, my parents would have had a small fortune if they hadn't sent my brother and me to a private school or if my mom hadn't stayed home with us during our formative years -- she could have worked and squirreled away a nice nut pile of cash.

Yet so many people would kill for kids. I have friends who are spending a fortune desperately trying to adopt; friends who've had miscarriages -- or worse -- lost an infant. Friends struggling with infertility and going through the agony of treatments and disappointments. They'd practically sell their soul to Satan for the privilege of those sleepless nights and dirty diapers.

And then you've got the people who have tons of kids -- 5, 10, 15 even 19 on some TV shows! How the heck they do it, I'll never know. One of my coworkers said it gets easier once the older kids can care for the younger ones so you have built-in babysitters. But still...

As for me, I might as well buy stock in Starbucks, eat more chocolate and just keep plugging away until I move to Europe.


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Amanda P

April, if you're 29, it's good that you're thinking now because it's best to have kids before 35 if you can. And yes they are expensive...from diapers to childcare to everything in between so have a big baby shower. Plus, many moms struggle after having kids as the cost of childcare is more than their takehome pay (especially if they work part-time).

April Neylan

This was a great read, thanks! :) I'm 29 and would love to have kids but not until I am more financially secure. 6k baby bonus aside.

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