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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Economics?

An article in the Economist had me amused, this paragraph in particular made me chuckle:

A further reason to welcome them is that in many developed countries, as well as in China, falling birth rates have started to cause working populations to shrink and the number of elderly people to rise steeply, with ominous consequences for economies in general and pensions in particular. More working women could help offset the decline in the labour force.
Methinks the economists have missed something in their calculations: more women working = even lower birth rates = more anxiety about a shrinking working population in another generation’s time… how’s that going to work? Short-termist thinking wins again!

People get upset when it is pointed out that the "Benefit Mums" are having more children than anyone else, so not only is there a falling birth rate overall, but fewer potential workers are being born. The problem being that the child typically, follows the pattern of life set by the parent, so a parent who lives on benefit and has never seriously considered getting into gainful employment is likely to produce a new generation of benefit dependents ...

What’s really needed is for maternity policies for working mothers to be better than for those who are on benefits. Yes, I do recognise that there are 'costs' and 'burdens on business' here, but sensible policies would actually reduce the impact, not increase it People generally complain about supplementing working parents (“they choose to have kids!”) while forgetting that the resultant sprogs will pay into everyone’s pensions – if they see their parents often enough to learn some kind of work ethic from them. As more and more couples are forced to work full-time and commute further and further, they have less and less influence over their childrens’ values.

As usual, the economists have studied the "bottom line" and reached a conclusion, but I think, in doing so, they've completely missed the larger picture. There's an elephant in the room here, and, probably because they're stood with their backs to it admiring the view from the window - they can't see it.

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