Sunday, May 29, 2011

How The Economy Is Linked to Demographics

There are some stats here that I've never seen before; for example:
Now, consider this fact: America's population has risen from 200 million to 300 million since 1970, while the total number of two-parent families with children is the same today as it was when Richard Nixon took office, at 25 million. In 1973, the United States had 36 million housing units with three or more bedrooms, not many more than the number of two-parent families with children–which means that the supply of family homes was roughly in line with the number of families. By 2005, the number of housing units with three or more bedrooms had doubled to 72 million, though America had the same number of two-parent families with children.

The number of two-parent families with children, the kind of household that requires and can afford a large home, has remained essentially stagnant since 1963, according to the Census Bureau. Between 1963 and 2005, to be sure, the total number of what the Census Bureau categorizes as families grew from 47 million to 77 million. But most of the increase is due to families without children, including what are sometimes rather strangely called "one-person families."
Hmmm.  That could explain the rash of foreclosures.  I've never understood the oversized houses - it's just more space to clean and more space to fill with stuff.  A tidier cottage makes sense.

Some of the suggestions seem run-of-the-mill.  But there is one that I really like:
*Shift part of the burden of social insurance to the childless. For most taxpayers, social-insurance deductions are almost as great a burden as income tax. Families that bring up children contribute to the future tax base; families that do not get a free ride. The base rate for social security and Medicare deductions should rise, with a significant exemption for families with children, so that a disproportionate share of the burden falls on the childless.
Other suggestions promote marriage and family formation with tax breaks and the like.  But the previous one realizes that children are NOT just economic burdens, and that our society depends on them.  Laws and rules promoting formation of stable, healthy families with children should be considered.  We have too many benefits that promote family dissolution - i. e., those benefits that can be received by the single parent, not the married couple.  For example, the Head of Household tax credit - NOT available to the intact family.

In essence, the federal government encourages women to look at their husband, and think, "Hmmm, I could make more money without you."

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