Baked-In Birth Control

The Holy Grail of Car Seats!!

Kids can be expensive. The first shock might be the hospital bill when you leave. I have friends that went into medical debt for their kid’s birth. If you escape medical bills, the next shock comes when you purchase a child seat. Really, its a throne, a really large, hard to use, plastic throne that your child will soil quickly. Because I have a large family, I noticed that these thrones couldn’t fit three across a seat. Even a booster seat seemed to magically bow outwards so that I couldn’t fit three kids in a backseat. I commented to my wife that it was a real disincentive for big families to not be able to fit three seats in the back seat.

Apparently, that was worthy of a study. A recent paper looked at just that, and noted that the new standards only saved 57 more people, but caused 145,000 fewer births since 1980. That’s a pretty significant difference.

That cost gets worse because it is near impossible to get a used car seat. When I worked at Goodwill, we wouldn’t take them because of liability concerns. To buy a new car seat for every kid gets expensive. Worse, the car seat standards change nearly every year. When it happened one year and I was told to throw out my old seats, I looked up the new standard (as in, I read the really boring, multi-page engineering standard) and noticed it barely changed anything. Going through the history of changes, most of the changes are minor. These changes serve to automatically deprecate car seats, to the point they’ve become like cell phones in that you can’t use old models, even though they may have plenty of life left in them.

This is just one thing in long list of items that makes it hard to have a large family. Unless you want to get the massive “Catholic Van,” you’re stuck with less kids. Now the government wants kids to sit in a car seat until they are 12 or 13. That’s kind of insane. Yet the same government is OK with a school bus full of kids that has no boosters, no seat belts and crappy bench seats. At least a passenger vehicle is designed with seat belts, air bags and crumple zones to keep people alive in a wreck.

Car seats is just one example of the quiet way we make it hard for responsible parents to follow the rules while also having a big family. As birth rates fall worldwide, governments are trying to find ways to promote larger families, with plenty of discussion on government child care and mandatory maternity leave. That might help, but if we’re not addressing the common day to day issues that face large families, people will continue to opt out of large families. Ironically, the most effective practices for governments might be to listen to today’s large families to understand their struggles, rather than viewing them as a burden.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

COVID-19 and a baby boom?

Yes, someone actually used this as a pick-up line

The COVID-19 shutdown has had many changes, with a notable one being more time spent at home. For couples, this had lead to more…alone time, if you know what I mean. More alone time means that 40 weeks from the start of pandemic in the United States (so around Christmas time) means we might be seeing a surge in births.

While definitely under-reported in America, other countries are reporting signs that we might see a large increase in babies. Indonesia saw a 10% decrease in birth control use, and in countries like Nepal, which already don’t have good transportation, family planning is out the window. India, already set to overtake China by 2050 in population, is likely seeing a surge too. Even in Ireland, pregnancy test purchases are spiking in some cities. It seems everyone is using COVID-19 as a bad pickup line to get it on.

What does this mean long term? First, a surge should help stave off economic downturn. World War II saw a decline in population of almost 2.5% worldwide, but a surge in the birth rate after contributed to the regrowth of the population and economy to boot. With better health care and schooling, a jump in birth rate means more workers to produce more , which long term should raise GDP.

From Reddit

Second, the population will change dramatically where it is located at. China, already on decline, will likely decline more, falling behind India faster than 2050. That may put pressure on China to consolidate gains made by the One-Belt-One-Road Initiative and territoriality in places like the South China Sea. Russia faces a significant loss in manpower and may struggle to maintain control over its vast territory, which could lead to civil war. African nations like Nigeria and Ethiopia, with relatively democratic governments, could become huge markets for goods and the new source of manufacturing for companies escaping China.

Lastly, COVID-19 exposed that how we manage the elderly, especially in America, is a borderline death trap. Nursing homes, already struggling to keep workers, are the single largest source of COVID deaths in America. But longer life spans and the tendency of nursing homes to suck every penny out of retirement funds means that people will be likely outraged and desire to move aging parents into safer facilities. Expect to see a focus on cleanliness at nursing homes plus a boom in new homes being built with mother-in-law suites for aging parents.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.