BusinessWeek's Karyn McCormack laments the cost of raising children -- pegged at around $289,000 for the first 18 years of a child's life if you're in the top third of income earners. Are they worth it? Blasphemy!

But in a way. they're not. Kids no longer work on the farm, and so the value they provide is now emotional rather than concrete -- but, of course, still no less real. And that's to say nothing of college and then the increasing likelihood of Junior moving back in when he has trouble finding a job that can cover all his expenses.

So having a kid is a huge financial sacrifice, especially when you figure in fact that caring for them often reduces the amount of time you can generally spend working. I would go so far as to say that a large percent of 20- and 30-something's really can't afford to have kids -- and still be on track for retirement.

With the cost of child-rearing on the rise, it seems likely that a growing number of people will simply elect not to have children. This is, after all, the "me" generation, and lot of us are just too selfish to bother with the responsibility of having a little person to look after.

And with the population already high enough, there's really no compelling altruistic reason to have a child -- which raises questions about why the government provides tax advantages to people who have children.

In the meantime, I'm sticking with my plan not to have children, and I know that lot of my college-age friends feel the same.


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