America’s Fertility Crisis

When it comes to baby-making, there are two Americas: Low-income America, where women have high rates of unplanned pregnancy, and high-income America, where women aren’t having kids at all, even if they want them.

You hear about the “haves” versus the “have-nots,” but not so much about the “have-one-or-nones” versus the “have-a-fews.” This, though, is how you might characterize the stark and growing fertility class divide in the United States. Two new studies bring the contrasting reproductive profiles of rich and poor women into sharp relief. One, from the Guttmacher Institute, shows that the rates of unplanned pregnancies and births among poor women now dwarf the fertility rates of wealthier women, and finds that the gap between the two groups has widened significantly over the past five years. The other, by the Center for Work-Life Policy, documents rates of childlessness among corporate professional women that are higher than the childlessness rates of some European countries experiencing fertility crises.

Childlessness has increased across most demographic groups but is still highest among professionals. Indeed, according to an analysis of census data conducted by the Pew Research Center, about one quarter of all women with bachelor’s degrees and higher in the United States wind up childless. (As Pew notes, for women with higher degrees, that number is actually slightly lower than it was in the early 1990s—but it is still very high.) By comparison, in England, which has one of the highest percentages of women without children in the world, 22 percent of all women are childless. According to the new Center for Work-Life Policy study, 43 percent of the women in their sample of corporate professionals between the ages of 33 and 46 were childless. The rate of childlessness among the Asian American professional women in the study was a staggering 53 percent.

As someone who is fairly agnostic about the baby-having thing, the language in the Slate article rubs me the wrong way — women who don’t have kids aren’t “childless,” exactly, any more than I’m “dogless” or “Mercedesless.” But that aside, the statistics are interesting. Surely there are women in both groups who made their choices freely — women who are low-income and have multiple children, and women who are high-income and have none. But as much as feminists hammer on the “choice” ideal, reproductive choice in the United States isn’t free. If you can’t access contraceptives, abortion, health care or sexual health information, you can’t make an entirely free choice to plan the number and spacing of your children. If you don’t have decent parental leave policies, if you’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into your education in order to place yourself on a particular career path, and if having a child might set that career back and cause significant professional and financial strain, you can’t make an entirely free choice to have a child (or multiple children).

These issues are also fraught with historical baggage. When I see an article that seems to say “poor women have having too many babies and rich women aren’t having enough,” I bristle, because there’s a long history in the United States and around the world of trying to control fertility from both angles — making sure the “wrong” kind of women don’t have too many children and that the “right” kind of women do. It’s impossible to read an article like this and take it out of that context. But at the same time, demographic trends can tell us a lot about on-the-ground access and choice. It’s not enough to say, “Well, there’s this fucked up history of poor women, women of color, women with disabilities and other groups being forced or coerced out of childbearing, so the fact that birth rates in poor communities are higher than average? I’m not touching that with a ten-foot pole” or “Well, there’s this fucked up history of wealthier white women being forced or coerced into childbearing, so the fact that birth rates amongst wealthier women are lower than average? Victory!”

Poor women are five times more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy than middle-income or rich women. Poor women are six times more likely to have an unplanned birth. And in a country without universal health care, without childcare for low-income women, without a smoothly-functioning educational system, without full access to abortion and contraception, and without mandatory parental leave, moms — and especially low-income moms– face an uphill battle. The Slate piece concludes aptly:

The fact that our extremes seem to almost magically balance each other out is only part of the reason we’ve failed to recognize these problems. The other part is that we’ve applied a distorted notion of choice to both trends. Certainly many professional women opt out of motherhood because they want to—and because that choice is now less stigmatized than it once was. And many women in all income brackets come to embrace an unexpected pregnancy as a happy accident.

But as much as we’d like to see our decisions about pregnancy and childbirth as straightforward exercises of individual will, or choice, there are clearly larger forces at work here, too. “Whether it’s the lack of services and education you experience because you’re poor or the corporate pressure because you’re successful, the broader society’s organization of work and support completely affects something as personal and intimate as whether you have children,” says Wendy Chavkin, professor of clinical population and family health at Columbia. “These latest numbers show how the macroeconomic trends are lived out in people’s personal lives.”

With growing poverty rates and political attacks on already inadequate family-planning funding threatening to drive the number of unintended pregnancies among poor women even higher, and little effort being made to address the pressures driving other women away from having kids, it’s easy to imagine how these forces could push professionals and poor women further apart. Still, in their own ways, both are struggling with the same problem: an untenable “choice” between children and financial solvency. At this point, it may be the only thing they have in common.

Author: has written 5289 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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47 Responses

  1. Amanda
    Amanda September 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm |

    Normally when I read articles like this, the underlying tone is, “hey, we’ve realized these two trends and they solve each other’s ‘problems.’ The poor women should give their babies to the ‘childless’ wealthy women for adoption!”

    I am so thankful to not have to read that here. 1. because that attitude treats children as a commodity and 2. because it doesn’t look at the bigger issues and how we really could be helping women have a greater choice when it comes to reproduction and childbearing.

    Access to adequate family planning services as well as childcare for low-income women is a must. Likewise, a social change that is more accepting of women who are caring for children to advance in education and the professional world is also a must. I was pregnant in college; I gave birth before the semester was over. It sucked! I couldn’t fit into the damn chairs into my 7th month. I needed to change my schedule around for my baby at work, employer said no can do, you either do our schedule or don’t work here at all. As someone who has been treated for PCOS, had I delayed childbearing until after college (and hell, it took me until the age of 24 to pick a major and stick with it) and after I had established my professional life, I very well may not have been able to bear any children at all.

    Thank you for raising awareness of these issues and for the manner in which you did so.

  2. Kathleen
    Kathleen September 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm |

    I agree with all of your points, but I wonder if they separate out how many women don’t have children at the end of their childbearing years? Because saying 43% of professional women aged 33 to 46 don’t have children is not the same as saying that none of them ever will. The 42+ ones, probably not. The 33-40 year olds, well, probably a good number of them eventually will. The 40-42 year olds will fall in between.

    I think many professional women have their children (one or two) in that window of 35-40. Some women have fertililty problems then, to be sure; but many do not, and career and personal-life wise, it’s often the right time and one women who can choose do choose to wait for.

  3. Matt
    Matt September 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm |

    Since when are children not a commodity? Can I move where you live? Because where I’m from, middle class america, children are basically dogs except instead of slaving for their masters for 18 years and dying they slave for 18 years and then get new corporate of government masters.

    Amanda:
    Normally when I read articles like this, the underlying tone is, “hey, we’ve realized these two trends and they solve each other’s ‘problems.’The poor women should give their babies to the ‘childless’ wealthy women for adoption!”

    I am so thankful to not have to read that here.1. because that attitude treats children as a commodity and 2. because it doesn’t look at the bigger issues and how we really could be helping women have a greater choice when it comes to reproduction and childbearing.

    Access to adequate family planning services as well as childcare for low-income women is a must.Likewise, a social change that is more accepting of women who are caring for children to advance in education and the professional world is also a must.I was pregnant in college; I gave birth before the semester was over.It sucked!I couldn’t fit into the damn chairs into my 7th month.I needed to change my schedule around for my baby at work, employer said no can do, you either do our schedule or don’t work here at all.As someone who has been treated for PCOS, had I delayed childbearing until after college (and hell, it took me until the age of 24 to pick a major and stick with it) and after I had established my professional life, I very well may not have been able to bear any children at all.

    Thank you for raising awareness of these issues and for the manner in which you did so.

  4. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin September 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm |

    It has been my experiences that the only fair way to make this sort of distinction is to take into account personal desire. Some women I know and have known have an extremely strong compulsion to procreate. Some have absolutely no desire whatsoever.

    But as this article points out, there are a variety of economic, educational, and socio-economic barriers that complicate this choice. It’s difficult to make any kind of sweeping across-the-board pronouncement. I think every woman brings her own variables to the issue. Sometimes I wonder if our good intentions and agency to put that into action doesn’t produce a whole new set of problems. But then again, we all want to be doing something to help.

    As the phrase goes, you pays your money and you takes your chances.

  5. Andie
    Andie September 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm |

    … a little ‘think-outside-the-box’ ism.. here – Do any of these studies consider that the relationship between having children/not having children and low-income/professional is not quite one sided?

    It’s not just that having happens more to poor people.. having kids can push you into a lower income bracket because of diminished opportunities for education, possible greater household living expenses ergo less opportunities for advancement less time to spend at work, etc.. meanwhile, NOT having children can open more opportunity… ability to dedicate oneself more (not saying that women without children always ARE more dedicated, just that it’s more feasible) to their job and career goals etc.

    Also, I agree about the term ‘childless’. Calling someone a ‘childless woman’ makes the assumption that having children is a default position, which clearly is NEVER the case. We’re not BORN with babies on our hips. NOT having kids is the default, until when and if someone decides to have a child.

  6. Willian
    Willian September 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm |

    I would be curious to know the religious affiliations of these poor women. It’s no secret that the two largest minority ethnic groups that comprise the American underclass are probably the most religious (outside of white southern evangelicals, who also comprise a decent of the “poor”). I would be curious to see what part their religious beliefs play in their decision making.

    I have a friend from very modest means whose sister got pregnant her Sr. year of high school. She was an honor student that had potential scholarships lined up. Yet, in her devout (Latino) catholic family, having an abortion would be considered a much larger disgrace than squandering her academic and career aspirations.

    There’s nothing here to suggest that the middle and upper classes are less devout (I have no idea), and this is of course all purely anecdotal. That said, I would be very curious to know just how important a part religion plays.

  7. NancyP
    NancyP September 28, 2011 at 6:54 pm |

    What isn’t often mentioned is that poor women have a higher rate of infertility as well as a higher rate of unplanned pregnancy. The infertility increase is due in part to lack of diagnosis of and treatment for subclinical STDs (most frequently Chlamydia), and this is related to the general lack of access to health care.

  8. anon
    anon September 28, 2011 at 7:15 pm |

    I think there’s also this idea of expectation and community. My family is very working class (more towards the “poor” end of the spectrum) and it’s assumed that unplanned pregnancies are a part of life, that to keep a baby when you are young is normal, that there is not a lot of money but a vast and loving support system. I know how to care for a child because I cared for untold cousins and neighbors and my niece; I did this because their parents cared for me, and so on and so forth. It also creates ideas of HOW you raise your children and what you view family to be–a network of young single mothers will prioritize children over partners (because partners leave) and the men who stay will be expected to act as fathers and teachers to children they may not even be related to. My mom was the youngest of six, so we had a HUGE network of support to pull from when I was born, including places to live, babysitters, and supplies.

    On the other hand, you take your young urban professional–likely to be from a family of three or less, all the children closely related in age, many of them with independent nuclear lives, and no baby supplies waiting in the wings, or practical knowledge on the part of the mother, and the assumption that it’s impossible to have a child without a two-parent model. This person is strikingly ill-prepared, emotionally and practically, for surprise child-rearing.

    Wealth and education and access have a LOT to do with this birthrate divide, but I also think the culture of the upper class is incredibly sterile and overly insistent on being completely self-sufficient.

  9. Thyrso
    Thyrso September 28, 2011 at 7:46 pm |

    Andie: Childless is a crap term, I agree, but I’m not certain it’s entirely accurate to say that having children is clearly NEVER the default position. For most of history and for a significant portion of the world’s population today choices about birth control (including the ability to abstain) are severely lacking. The biological default is fertility, and the historical socio-cultural default doesn’t exactly involved full uncoerced consent for sexual activity.

  10. Athenia
    Athenia September 28, 2011 at 7:51 pm |

    I hate articles like this because they just seem to justify oppression–see babies only happen when we force women to have them! Oppression is the key to our survival!

    Urgh.

  11. Matt
    Matt September 28, 2011 at 8:01 pm |

    The key to our survival is uploading our brains into vast distributed redundant networks. Meat bodies are just our caterpillar form.

  12. Darque
    Darque September 29, 2011 at 12:03 am |

    Matt:
    The key to our survival is uploading our brains into vast distributed redundant networks. Meat bodies are just our caterpillar form.

    Here here! Humanity is seriously overrated.

  13. Well. . .
    Well. . . September 29, 2011 at 9:23 am |

    Some parts of the way you phrase things aren’t really realistic.

    You express concern over free child care for low income people, etcetera. Where is this going to come from? The US can’t even pay it’s OWN bills, let alone someone else’s.

    I mean, given the millions of individuals that would use such a program, who is going to fund it? I think there’s a lot, within certain groups, of believing the government is just a huge creature of infinity, capable of doing ANYTHING, provided you just get the politicians to understand someone needs it.

    You could convince them all day long that this is needed, but it doesn’t mean there’s money to back it.

    Mandatory parental leave is also horribly expensive, and smaller businesses cannot afford it. You essentially are paying a worker for 6-8 weeks AND a temp to fill their position. Paying two employees for one untrained employee to do their job.

    Wanting children doesn’t mean you get to have them, no matter how badly someone might want them.

    Is that fair? No. Is life fair? No. It’s not exactly really meant to be fair. Bad things happen, you can’t have everything you want. I want a lot of things I likely won’t ever have. That’s just how it goes.

    If you can’t access contraceptives, abortion, health care or sexual health information, you can’t make an entirely free choice to plan the number and spacing of your children.

    You make it sound like sex is this thing you are so impossibly addicted to that you can’t help but have it. That you just sort of slip on wet tile in the bathroom and fall on some sex.

    If you absolutely, totally cannot financially have a child, then perhaps choose sexual activity that isn’t penetrative. There’s tons and tons and tons of things a couple can do in the bedroom that don’t involve the release of semen into a vagina.

  14. Well. . .
    Well. . . September 29, 2011 at 9:24 am |

    Should have added, your article is also insulting to those women (hell, and men for that matter) that are physically incapable of having children, for whatever reason. Be it disability, infertility, or whatever else.

  15. Willian
    Willian September 29, 2011 at 9:50 am |

    @Well….

    I don’t want to be a dick, but when in Rome (or when talking with a Roman)…..

    Explain to me how this sentence works:

    “Some parts of the way you phrase things aren’t really realistic.”

    Help me out dear friend, how does one “phrase things realistically”? Or better yet, what is “unrealistic phrasing”? Is that phrasing like Minnie Mouse? Or one of those speed talkers?

    I require further clarification if I am to properly engage you.

  16. Well. . .
    Well. . . September 29, 2011 at 10:01 am |

    It makes it sound as though the only stop to having a kid is money issues, and it just sort of erases by omission, all the people who could otherwise have one financially, and perhaps desperately want one, and cannot.

    I’m trying to think of a sufficient analogy to better explain, but, I’m more eloquent with spoken word than I am with written.

    Also, I had meant to throw in:

    The term “childless” might be bothersome to some people, but the only shopped alternative is “childfree” which carries it’s own baggage. (Implying children are a horrible burden one must be “free” of). Nobody says they’re Merdecesfree or dogfree, either.

    I think sometimes it’s just best to take it as it’s components. -less meaning “without”, and child meaning, well, child. Without children. I mean, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  17. Well. . .
    Well. . . September 29, 2011 at 10:04 am |

    Willian:

    Oh, ffs. Being obnoxious for the sake of being obnoxious isn’t productive. It’s early, and I’m only one coffee in.

    Some parts of your statements are phrased in ways that portray a situation in an unrealistic or otherwise incomplete manner.

    Cripes.

  18. Andie
    Andie September 29, 2011 at 10:07 am |

    Well. . .:
    Nobody says they’re Merdecesfree or dogfree, either.

    Eff that noise. I’m totally dogfree and I love it.

  19. EG
    EG September 29, 2011 at 10:11 am |

    Nope, I don’t buy that–not a surprise, because Well has never posted anything that I buy.

    Governments always manage to find the money to fund things they want to fund. Legislators always get their salaries and health care benefits paid; wars are never stopped because, hey, oops! ran out of money. The issue isn’t funding; it’s priorities.

    And expecting people not to have penis-in-vagina sex doesn’t work. It never has worked. That has been the go-to solution for millennia, and it just doesn’t work. People like penis-in-vagina sex. People have penis-in-vagina sex. That’s reality.

  20. Andie
    Andie September 29, 2011 at 10:22 am |

    Well… So would you tell married couples to refrain from PIV or just all those dirty slutty single ladies getting all knocked up.

    EG:
    Governments always manage to find the money to fund things they want to fund.Legislators always get their salaries and health care benefits paid; wars are never stopped because, hey, oops! ran out of money.The issue isn’t funding; it’s priorities.

    Yeah.. exactly. This is why my country has a fucking useless long-gun registry (because making farmers register their shotguns is DEFINITELY going to keep handguns out of Toronto nightclubs. Yup.) instead of a national daycare program that was in talks.

  21. Well. . .
    Well. . . September 29, 2011 at 10:42 am |

    Jill: It’s more the fact that you do people a disservice by not mentioning them. You can erase a group without actively trying. Building stairs without putting in a ramp doesn’t mean you’re actively against the disabled, but you’re assuming they aren’t a big deal by doing it.

    I mean, if you have all these plans for the government to subsidize all other forms of childrearing/having, why not get them to pay for fertility treatments, too?

    EG: You do realize the US had a credit downgrade, and has been borrowing money pretty much nonstop. We don’t generate enough of our own revenue to fund the things we already have.

    It’s a poor excuse to just claim they aren’t funding the stuff you want because they’re mean, and don’t care.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe any country just provides endless free, government-paid childcare.

    If there are any, I can guarantee you that it’s a much smaller country than the US, with much less debt/expenses, and less citizens that are/would be using said program.

    See, though, that’s the thing. It’s not the government’s fault, or the fault of anyone else but the people having sex, if they’re having sex. You can’t expect the government to be anything more than a government. It’s not a parent, it’s not someone keeping an eye out for you, and making sure you’re taken care of in case of mistakes. There needs to be SOME form of individual accountability.

    I’m fully aware people like to fuck. What’s wrong with every other form of sex? I mean, I’m not a woman, but I’ve known quite a few in my life, and I don’t know ANY of them that would refuse oral sex. I know quite a few that would prefer it over penetrative sex.

  22. S.H.
    S.H. September 29, 2011 at 10:42 am |

    “And expecting people not to have penis-in-vagina sex doesn’t work. It never has worked. That has been the go-to solution for millennia, and it just doesn’t work. People like penis-in-vagina sex. People have penis-in-vagina sex. That’s reality.”

    Amen. The argument that poor people should refrain from having (reproductive) sex is unrealistic, unfair and the exact opposite of being pro-choice.

  23. Willian
    Willian September 29, 2011 at 11:00 am |

    Well. . .:
    Willian:

    Oh, ffs.Being obnoxious for the sake of being obnoxious isn’t productive.It’s early, and I’m only one coffee in.

    Do you believe this? Or only when it applies to others dealing with you? I am not sure what exactly constitutes “being obnoxious for the sake of being obnoxious,” but I am going to guess that trolling a feminist blog to wind people up might qualify.

    Also, this one is classic:

    “I’m trying to think of a sufficient analogy to better explain, but, I’m more eloquent with spoken word than I am with written.”

    Oh, how unfortunate for the rest of us that we denied the sweet sounds of your “eloquent spoken word.” Please provide a link to that golden “eloquent spoken word.”

    Finally, you want a country that provides free childcare? Try Any country in Scandanavia, where they pay for this with a much more progressive tax code than in the US, AND just by chance, this part of the world has repeatedly been found to have the happiest citizens. You see Well, the folks in Scandanavia have made a social contract with their government, you exchange high taxes for a much higher quality of life. Suits them well. Of course, this would never work in America, where Glenn Beck listening plumbers are appalled that we would tax billionaires over 50% because, you know, they might become billionaires someday too :/

    I’m no socialist, but having been to Sweeden and Denmark, I see why they like their system.

  24. Willian
    Willian September 29, 2011 at 11:14 am |

    S.H.:
    “And expecting people not to have penis-in-vagina sex doesn’t work. It never has worked. That has been the go-to solution for millennia, and it just doesn’t work. People like penis-in-vagina sex. People have penis-in-vagina sex. That’s reality.”

    Amen. The argument that poor people should refrain from having (reproductive) sex is unrealistic, unfair and the exact opposite of being pro-choice.

    I’ll give a second amen to that. Life’s tough enough and even harder when you’re poor. Fucking might be the greatest thing in life that costs nothing (well, usually costs nothing). Now you want to take that away? Oops, pardon me, you want to take away penetration? Oral Sex ONLY if you’re making less than $30k per year!!!

    Finally:

    “I mean, I’m not a woman, but I’ve known quite a few in my life, and I don’t know ANY of them that would refuse oral sex. I know quite a few that would prefer it over penetrative sex.”

    Naw man, these are just the women you’ve slept with. Does that suggest anything to you?

  25. Well. . .
    Well. . . September 29, 2011 at 11:31 am |

    Willian:

    My point stands. The entire set of Nordic countries has barely more people than New York state. You can’t take what works for a VERY small scale of people, and assume it will work for a large scale. The US has 10 times the population of EVERY Nordic country COMBINED.

    Even if you took 50% income from the citizens of the US, in exchange for services that many people might not even use (child care, etcetera), it still wouldn’t fund it for everyone, because we have so many more people. We also have an economy that requires a lot more money to function.

    The average middle class person, even without children, is already crunched to put money into the economy that isn’t in the form of basic living expenses. If you were to snatch even more of their money away (for benefits they might not even use) the economy would suffer further.

    As far as your “classic” it simply means “I can better phrase my statements when I am speaking them, as opposed to writing them”.

    The rest of your statements are silly nonsense and will be ignored, as I don’t respond to schoolyard taunting.

    But nice try. <3

  26. Willian
    Willian September 29, 2011 at 11:41 am |

    @Wells,

    You provide no proof to back up your statement that this would not work other than “because I said it.”

    And then we have this one:

    “The average middle class person, even without children, is already crunched to put money into the economy that isn’t in the form of basic living expenses. If you were to snatch even more of their money away (for benefits they might not even use) the economy would suffer further.”

    This is nonsense and a non-sequitur. No one is suggesting tax the middle class numbnuts. Unless you think the middle class make over a million dollars a year. Again, show me any statement where the middle class in the countries I just mentioned complain about their back-breaking taxes. You really don’t have a clue about anything other than parroting right-wing platitudes. I mean if you DID have original thoughts, I would not have needed to remind you of the fact that all of Scandinavia happily exists with an extremely progressive tax code. You know, this is just something well informed, well-traveled, and well read people know.

    One would think that with all that extra time you have from not dancing or having sex that you’d be more informed. Of course, that might interrupt your trolling duties :/

  27. Willian
    Willian September 29, 2011 at 11:43 am |

    “As far as your “classic” it simply means “I can better phrase my statements when I am speaking them, as opposed to writing them”.

    That’s the point son, you could have simply said that, but I suppose pomposity is a disease and I should have more empathy.

  28. llama
    llama September 29, 2011 at 11:54 am |

    Well. . .: The US can’t even pay it’s OWN bills, let alone someone else’s.

    Mainly because the rich don’t pay enough tax

  29. Well. . .
    Well. . . September 29, 2011 at 11:55 am |

    Willian:

    Actually, you basically did suggest it by comparing the US to the Nordic countries. They don’t have some special magic system where ONLY certain people are taxed at the 50% rate. EVERYONE is. Not just millionaires.

    I repeat: What works for 24 million people, and an economy nowhere near as large as the US’s, won’t necessarily work for 300+ million people, and said large economy.

    For all the patting yourself on the back that you do, you don’t seem to really understand much more than vague concepts.

    Which, for the record, only taxing millionaires here at a much higher rate won’t generate the kind of money you probably think it will. Drop in the bucket, largely symbolic. Go for it, they need to pay more than the under 20% they get away with, but it’s not this perfect savior of the economy.

  30. llama
    llama September 29, 2011 at 11:56 am |

    Well. . .: I mean, if you have all these plans for the government to subsidize all other forms of childrearing/having, why not get them to pay for fertility treatments, too?

    Happens in Australia, and we can pay our bills too.

  31. Willian
    Willian September 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm |

    Patting myself on the back? I know, I know, you HATE providing supporting evidence, but since the thread IS right in front of you, let’s have a go. Show me where I patted myself on the back?

    But before you do that, let me ask this again: Is there a reason that you think this couldn’t work in the US? Other than the vaunted, “because Well said so.” The internet is an amazing thing, you can find an article or paper supporting almost any insane conclusion. Give it a whirl.

    Secondly, re: middle class taxes, you’re comparing apples and oranges. I would venture to guess that your average American family spends over 15% of their income on health care, education and childcare. Keeping that in mind, and without taking into consideration ideological prejudices, I think you’ll find that many middle class Americans would gladly pay 50% taxes if in return, they’d receive free health care, freed education, 6 week paid vacations, free child care, etc. etc.

    In fact, I’d love to see a study done that takes into account all of these other expenses and considers them taxes. I’d reckon that things would be quite comparable, but unlike you, I won’t quote this as fact as I don’t have anything off-hand to substantiate it.

    Of course, none of this accounts for the fact that none of the European socialist democracies (or any country) spend 20% of their budget or 4% of GDP on supporting their military industrial complex, but that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax from which I bet everyone on here would prefer to be spared.

  32. Willian
    Willian September 29, 2011 at 12:24 pm |

    Well. . .: I mean, if you have all these plans for the government to subsidize all other forms of childrearing/having, why not get them to pay for fertility treatments, too?

    This was also bugging me. You DO see the distinction between using government funds to care for AN ALREADY LIVING BEING vs. helping two people create one. If you desire, I can expound on this difference, but I will assume you’re capable of grasping that point.

    Along those lines, one could also argue, that by providing decent childcare, education and support for poor children, they’d be less likely to become criminals and thus, we’d save money by reducing the world’s largest prison population (by some distance). We could spend less money on hiring more cops (and maybe spend some of that teaching existing cops about why macing the shit out of young women holding signs in the financial district is fucked up).

  33. Well. . .
    Well. . . September 29, 2011 at 12:31 pm |

    Much like you say, can you provide any proof, or just because Willian said so?

  34. Willian
    Willian September 29, 2011 at 12:57 pm |

    Well….

    Even though you haven’t returned the favor and shown me where I “patted myself on the back,” I’ll be magnanimous (there’s your example! Hurry and use it!) and show you courtesy:

    I’m not sure which part you want me to substantiate, but here’s a start numbnuts:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43287918/ns/business-world_business/t/us-doesnt-make-cut-happiest-nations-list/#.ToSvYOz86s0

    Check out the political philosophies of these nations.

  35. Well. . .
    Well. . . September 29, 2011 at 1:41 pm |

    So, I ask for proof that using another country’s tax codes and setup will function in the US, and you provide “proof” from an MSN survey about “happiest nations”? Way to completely not do as requested.

    I’ve noticed that from your posts though. You spend an inordinate amount of time not responding to a great deal of the things said, and instead try to divert and distract.

    Whether or not a country likes it’s system, doesn’t exactly say if it would work somewhere else.

    Again: Entire set of all Nordic countries: 25 million citizens. New York state: 20 million citizens.

    Again, show me some proof that what works for such a comparably tiny amount of people would work in a country with over 10 times the population.

  36. Willian
    Willian September 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm |

    Yawn. This is stupid. I showed some backing for one of my assertions, even though I had no idea what you were requesting. That survey is NOT by MSNBC, it’s by that liberal group 24/7 Wall St. (not liberal).

    Now, did you know that a country like Denmark has virtually NO DEBT? It’s in the article you conveniently brushed aside. (also, you accuse me of avoiding your arguments, yet while admitting to have studied my posts, you STILL have yet to show me where I pat myself on the back).

    Though the fun thing would be to ask you to show me evidence that it would NOT work in the USA, I’ll avoid being petulant and just ask you to explain to my WHY the scale of the US population prevents one of the most affluent and resource rich nations in the world from have a successful social-democracy.

  37. Willian
    Willian September 29, 2011 at 2:04 pm |

    Jill, I wonder if this is apropos to the original (intended) discussion?

    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/09/what-if-i-dont-want-kids.html

    I fear that in the midst of Well and I’s private pissing match that everyone else has (understandably) fled this thread. Nevertheless, I think it would have been an interesting discussion point about 24 hours ago :(

  38. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni September 29, 2011 at 2:12 pm |

    @llama – the UK too.

  39. S.H.
    S.H. September 29, 2011 at 2:28 pm |

    Well…, I’m kind of getting confused by your arguments here, because I thought you were initially lobbying for govt funded infertility treatments (in the name of fairness is what I took from your statement), and then you followed that by arguing against govt funded childcare and mandating poor people abstain from sex, (which you have no way to enforce without govt intervention, which would cost money too) and have yet to resolve the fact that if we did have government funding for infertility treatments it would be an option available to anyone, not only to people who could afford children.

    Also, I think it helps to keep in mind that the cost of certain govt funded programs are often offset by the costs they keep down in other areas. For instance, providing govt subsidized reproductive care helps offset the costs relating to childcare for those who could not afford it. Rather than banning sex which again, is completely unrealistic, we can offer birth control to those who *choose* it or can take it (I include that because some women struggle with various types of bc for a variety of health reasons). In other words, it’s alot cheaper to support planned parenthood than ordering 100 million govt issued chastity belts. You can’t effectively ban something without the mechanism to enforce the ban, which would also cost some taxpayer dough.

    One other quick point, some of the programs that you’re claiming the US could not possibly afford are actually already in existence they’re just not universal. For instance the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 does cover some parental leave. From the dept. of labor website: ” [FMLA] provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave.” That program has been in place 18 years and the country hasn’t crumbled because of it.

    I just feel like “the we can’t afford to do that” argument isn’t always thought out too well and the fiscal issues behind reproduction are often used as a way to shame women even more (like telling them they can’t have sex b/c they’re too poor).
    Trust me on this, it is a total mindfuck for any woman of childbearing age who is told simultaneously they are a slut for having sex, irresponsible for having children, selfish for putting career first and a murderer for having an abortion. meanwhile have you noticed how the men’s responsibilty in this issue has completely been put aside once again?

    It’s all well and good to talk about fiscal responsibility, but the argument is just too simplistic when you fail to include the human cost of such policies which greatly affect quality of life.

  40. Jackie
    Jackie September 29, 2011 at 4:05 pm |

    Well. . .:
    It makes it sound as though the only stop to having a kid is money issues, and it just sort of erases by omission, all the people who could otherwise have one financially, and perhaps desperately want one, and cannot.

    I’m trying to think of a sufficient analogy to better explain, but, I’m more eloquent with spoken word than I am with written.

    Also, I had meant to throw in:

    The term “childless” might be bothersome to some people, but the only shopped alternative is “childfree” which carries it’s own baggage.(Implying children are a horrible burden one must be “free” of).Nobody says they’re Merdecesfree or dogfree, either.

    I think sometimes it’s just best to take it as it’s components.-less meaning “without”, and child meaning, well, child.Without children.I mean, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    The term doesn’t insinutate that “children are a horrible burden one must be free of”. It means that someone simply prefers not wanting to have children. Perhaps parents want to overdramatize the view of childfree people, to make themselves feel superior to them. The claim that childfree people see children as burdensome, seems to stem from the claim that childfree people must be selfish. All in all, you’ve just made the point that choosing not to have children still is stigmatized against in society. There’s still the notion that something just has to be wrong with people who can’t tolerate children. It must never occured to these crusaders against the childfree, that some people cannot tolerate children due to an invisible disability that is beyond their choice or control.

  41. Miss S
    Miss S September 29, 2011 at 11:21 pm |

    A black woman with no education may see family rearing as her only option.

  42. Miss S
    Miss S September 30, 2011 at 1:18 am |

    also I totally agree with this

    “I think you’ll find that many middle class Americans would gladly pay 50% taxes if in return, they’d receive free health care, freed education, 6 week paid vacations, free child care, etc. etc.”

  43. Miss S
    Miss S September 30, 2011 at 1:20 am |

    That was William’s quote btw.

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