Archive Economics Nota Bene Steven Wedgeworth The Natural Family

Capitalism in Need of Families

Add this one to the ever-growing number of articles on the dicey relationship between modern US capitalism and the family. Our economy discourages large families, but it turns out that, in doing so, it actually harms itself:

The thing about an increasingly childless economy is that it has major implications for consumption. Just look at this new data from a Gallup survey released today on the average daily spending of families. Even after you control for income, age, education, and marital status, families with young kids spend more every day. These are the sort of spenders you want in a weak economy following a great deleveraging.

…The drop in U.S. fertility rates in recent years has almost certainly had a negative effect on consumer spending (and, in turn, lower birthrates are probably an outcome of the recession). In particular, childless couples don’t need space for more kids so they’re less likely to buy homes in the suburbs, depressing demand for housing in an economy that badly needs to sell more homes.

But in order to “solve” this problem, we would need to find a way to encourage larger families. And to that, you would have to discourage personal consumption as the primary motivational tool in Americans’ lives. That’s some catch there.

By Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the Rector of Christ Church Anglican in South Bend, Indiana. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a founding member of the Davenant Institute.

One reply on “Capitalism in Need of Families”

“No surprise that masses of people embrace present-oriented lifestyles and refuse to commit themselves to real marriage with children.”

“To put it plainly, social security replaces children and the family as the main support in old age by literally socializing the traditional duties of the family. Why have children when the state will take care of you in your old age?”

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