July 14, 2008

A thought on economic incentives for having kids

Posted in double standards, economics, myths, social justice at 2:00 pm by LB

As I sit here finishing up the final edits of my Master’s thesis, I had this thought:

The Right tends to argue that our social welfare system provides incentive for single women (a.k.a. “welfare mothers”) to pop out children left and right.  This constitutes an abuse of the system.

I’m not saying that’s at all true (and actually the stats on this “phenomenon” are rather skewed: the number of kids women on welfare have is about the same as the general population), but take their argument and consider this…

Yet there are a slew of tax breaks for families with children.  Does this not also constitute an incentive to have kids in order to receive unearned money (one could call it welfare, sure!) for those kids?  Yet I don’t hear anyone on the right complaining about those..in fact, they usually want to raise them!  Yet why should “we” subsidize “their” children?!

Curious, huh?

I guess so-called “incentives” are OK for the “right” kinds of families…



  1. earlgreyrooibos said,

    Yup. Classism (and probably at least some racism) at its finest!

    I think your point is especially interesting considering that conservatives who are pro-life want women to have babies they can’t afford, but then complain when women who can’t afford their babies go on welfare. Pro-life indeed . . .

  2. Renee said,

    I cannot speak from an American point of view as I am a Canadian but despite the money that I receive monthly from the government it does not greatly relieve the expense of having children. I didn’t have children to get rich but I am certainly aware that other than being rich in love children assure that I will never have certain possessions because I have to pay for their subsistence. As a parent I don’t regret this choice but I take issue with the fact that having children is a decision that leads to economic advancement of any kind. Seriously has anyone looked at the price of diapers, daycare, food, entertainment…even small things like haircuts add up over the course of years.

  3. lindabeth said,

    Of course, I don’t intend to imply that it does…what I was thinking about was how both examples are essentially subsidizing someone else’s kids or encouraging procreation, but for the Right, in the first example, (the poor) it’s a “bad” thing and in the second example (the not-poor) it’s a “good” thing.

    More thinking about how this demonstrates that “subsidies” or “incentives” (and I scare-quote them because I don’t think those terms are accurate, as you point out as well) are only ok if you have the “right kind” of family, in good right-wing classism.

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