Children Are Not a Burden on the Economy

I find Nancy Pelosi’s recent comments shocking. I probably shouldn’t. Denny Burk summarizes her comments well:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is defending the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars of the forthcoming stimulus package are to be spent on “family planning.” Her argument is very simple. The economy is bad. Having babies costs money. Would-be parents need to save their money by not having babies.

You can see her comments here:

Three things. First, the values embodied in this perspective are completely backwards. Quite simply, it fails to recognize that people — human life — is the most valuable reality in creation. God is most valuable. After that, it’s people. Seeking to cut down on the number of children born in order to “cut costs” and help the economic stimulus makes things more important than people. The economy exists for people. You do not sacrifice people for things.

Second, the economic perspective in her comments is also wrong. Obviously children do cost money. However, funding measures to help reduce the number of children born is a short-sighted way of addressing the economic side of things. For children grow up. They become adults who solve problems, produce things, cure diseases, become president, or just plain work hard and serve their communities and families. These people — the children that are born today — are the solution to the problems of tomorrow. People are not problems, they are solutions. To advocate fewer births now is a very short-sighted approach to a temporary economic issue. It is sacrificing the long-term for the sake of perceived short-term gain.

Third, the children that are born today are not simply the solutions to the problem of tomorrow. They make society better today. A society devoid of children is a lonely, boring society. I’m not saying that she is taking things that far. Neither am I saying that we should all have 10 kids. But what we need is more of the energy and vitality that children bring, not less of it.

We should not look at the short-term expense of children as a financial burden to the states or the economy. We should look at it as a commitment to what is most worthwhile.

(HT: Vitamin Z)

  • Abigail Dodds

    Thank you for this post. Well said.

    Anyone who devalues life after it is already created (in the womb) for the sake of personal convenience (abortion on demand) will not have trouble devaluing it for the sake of money.

  • Matthew

    I appreciate your post but must admit that I value your posts on workflow and productivity more, as there are plenty of other blogs that discuss normative issues of politics, morality, theology, etc. Just one reader’s opinion, FWIW. Have a great day.

  • Matt


    Thanks for thoughts. Here’s some more background on my thinking, if you’re interested.

    As I go over in my About page, I see the societal dimension of things (economics, politics) as a component of productivity.

    So there is productivity in our work, regular lives, businesses/organizations, and then also society. I want to hit on all four components of productivity. I think that is unique — I don’t see anyone making the connection that how we think about _economic issues_ is actually a component of _productivity_ (namely, the productivity of groups — society).

    But posts on workflow and personal productivity in life and work will always be a big part of the blog.

  • GFish

    Isn’t the idea to have people spend more money to boost the economy?

    What better way to cause people to spend money than to have kids? Diapers, toys, clothes, food, baby gates, etc, etc.

  • Joel

    Thanks for the post. I agree that, as a nation (Christian or not), we do not find children as a blessing. “Blessed is the man whose quiver is full.” Not, Blessed is the man who has less children so he can retire early and enjoy his hard earned money. Naturally, we have it all backwards.

    Economically speaking, spending is what spurs on an economy, and having children makes you spend! I have 2 under 3, only 3 years out of college. The world would look at me as a fool who has dashed my career to pieces by having children. Pelosi’s comments got me thinking about how much more I spend because of my children. But then I also had to weigh in the fact that because of our 2 unexpected pregnancies, I had to push harder to advance my career so that my wife could stay home with our children. So in all reality, I am considerably further down my career path than I would have been without children.

    So both Biblically and economically, Pelosi is way off base.

  • Pedro Jimenez

    Excellent post.

    Thank for sharing.

  • Julia Weston

    Mr. Perman – 1
    Mme. Pelosi – 0

    I can’t believe she said that. Horrendously irresponsible, in my opinion. Thanks for such an articulate post.

  • Craig

    She is making the argument that we need to stimulate the economy by providing federal tax dollars to state programs to help alleviate overstretched state budgets, and one of the ways we should do that is to help them with family planning.

    In essence, it is a “bail-out” for the states. She really didn’t answer George’s question as to why she thinks family planning would be the most effective use of those funds.

    She did not make an argument to the effect “Having babies costs money. Would-be parents need to save their money by not having babies.” that is a straw man’s attack and doesn’t really make her answer for her poor response.

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  • Anne

    In France, where I live, this way of thinking is quite surprising.

    Of course children cost money. But here, it is considered normal for the state to spend some money to help parents pay for the costs of having children.

    Family planning is important and money should be spent on it.

    But instead of spending all state money for family planning, why not spend it also in daycare centers, family support groups, etc ?

    That would help the economy also wouldn’t it ?

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  • yarik venan

    you let your ego and disney movies in your head get in the way of your thinking,
    sorry to disagree but you must understand that the “economy” shes talking about is actually the earths resources and when it runs out history tells us that peaple are going to die sooo…
    do make a pro con list before you have your five children
    parden my english im from israel