To Reproduce Or Not To Reproduce

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To Reproduce Or Not To Reproduce
The pros and cons of having kids during the recession.

"The economy’s so bad we had to lay off one of our kids," comedian Jonathan Katz recently joked.

Pretty funny. And absurd. But what about laying off the stork? Now there’s an idea…

During the Depression, the birth rate plummeted and there are several indicators —a recent uptick in vasectomies, a spike in condom sales, and buzz about pregnancy postponement on mommy blogs, health, and news sites – that this recession’s also affecting family planning.Read: Why I Love My Kid More Than My Husband

The reality is kids cost a lot. The Department of Agriculture estimates that families making $46,000 to $77,000 annually will spend more than $200,000 on children through high school. And that’s bare-bones—it doesn’t include college tuition. The Wall Street Journal estimates families earning $118,000 a year will spend $800,000 (on the low end!) through age 17. Of course, some prospective parents also need to factor in the up-front costs of adoption or in vitro fertilization.

So how do you actually assess whether you can afford a baby or not? Can you really reduce a child to a financial calculation? They’re questions my new husband, Jay, and I have thought a lot about. We got hitched in October, after co-habiting for six years, in large part because we’d been talking about starting a family. But when the economy collapsed, what seemed like a no-brainer suddenly looks more like a tricky computation.Read: Recession Causes Upswing In Vasectomies

My pragmatic mind first focused on two types of variables: cold, hard facts (employment status, mortgage/debt situation, health) and predictions (squishier things like job security).

I still have my PR job and I’ve been snagging a few writing gigs on the side. Jay’s a New York City firefighter. But with businesses slashing marketing/PR budgets, newspapers and magazines closing at lightening speed, and Bloomberg threatening layoffs of uniformed city employees, you never know.

Written by Victoria Granthaml for Recessionwire.com.

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