Converting Currency for Children
7 May 2021
Having kids can be both painful and joyous. Parents and non-parents alike know the range of emotions that can come with raising a child. Regardless of your current status as a parent or non-parent, most people can agree that raising kids is difficult. This difficulty can be for many reasons, and each kid varies in how difficult they can be to raise (I'm sure my parents would have placed me on the more complex end of the spectrum). Even with the most well-behaved kids, there are still difficulties that come with raising them. Even the most prepared parents will have to deal with the logistics of raising their kids, and most parents are far from being fully ready to have children.
As difficult as raising a child can be, we still must do it. Just like a company that recruits to replace its employee base lost to attrition, a society must replace its people when the grim reaper comes for a piece of its population. Now, I am not one to say every single human being must reproduce. There are plenty of people who feel they would rather be a non-parent and for valid reasons. To the same extent, there are just as many people (if not more) that would like to become parents but hesitate due to the difficulties that lie ahead in having children. Since steady birthrates are imperative to maintaining a stable society, the question becomes what can help reduce child-rearing problems and incentivize more people to have the kids they want.
To answer this question, we first must answer what parents could use the most help with regarding having children? The things parents need help with is a loaded question that doesn't have a specific answer because each parent and each child will need different things. Even for parents with multiple children, the assistance that would be most helpful can vary on each child and their specific needs in life. For example, some families may need assistance with housing and food for their children. Others may need help in finding care for their children while they are working. Some may want their child to be part of an extracurricular club or function that teaches specific skills or values. These are just a few examples of things parents and children may need. I could drone on with different examples for the rest of this post (luckily for both of us, I won't) because the examples are so abundant. This variety of needs requires us to ask how we can best support parents and children in the most even-handed manner since they all need different things.
There is only one thing that we convert into essentially anything we want in our current conception of society. That one thing is currency. Regardless of the specific type of currency we use, from Dollars to Yen and everything in between, money is the one thing that we can give someone, and they can then convert it into what they need. Need to get that kid into daycare; money can help. Need help in getting your child clothes and school supplies? Currency can cover that. Whatever your needing assistance in when it comes to child-rearing, cash can help in providing that assistance. Trying to prescribe the same treatment plan to all patients regardless of their ailment is bound to yield negative results for most patients. In the same sense, trying to give parents just one means of assistance, such as universal daycare, will not help most parents or improve birth rates in a country. You may be thinking, isn't giving parents money a one size fits all type of solution your bashing? However, due to currency's conversion ability to become whatever is most needed by the parents, it's the best solution we can offer as a society.
You may be on board with the idea that parents would most benefit from cash assistance for their children, yet you may be worried that it will disincentivize parents to join the workforce. This impact on the labor market is a reasonable concern that we must address to be realistic about a proposal of this nature. The best way to address this concern is to focus on the specifics of the assistance given. The exact amount of cash assistance we give parents will determine the behaviors that parents exhibit afterward. If you gave each parent $100,000 a year for having a kid, that would be too much and would allow parents to live off these subsidies, not to mention the impracticality of funding the program through tax raises. Now let's say we give each parent $100 a year for having a kid. At this rate, no parent would be able to live off these subsidies and would have to join the workforce to earn the income they need for their children. Somewhere between these two figures is the appropriate amount that will allow parents to get the support they need for their children while ensuring that they are not living like fat cats from tax dollars.