Friday, May 04, 2007

More Americans aren’t having children, and many worry about elder care

Aging without children — who provides care?
In 1984, the percent of childless women aged 40 to 44 was 11.1 percent. Twenty years later, it's risen to 19.3 percent, and it's still going up.

"And that's going to have a tremendous impact and going to be an entirely different situation than the situation our parents faced when they got older," Rother says.

Experts say plan ahead, stay healthy, check your finances (and start saving now) and find community resources before you need them.

The article is brief and unhelpful. Was it meant to scare us? Otherwise, what's the point?

For actually helpful information, please see this. It might also help to know that a University of Florida study debunked the myth that childlessness leads to loneliness in old age over three years ago.

There were several things wrong with that myth in the first place. First, having children to take care of you in old age is a hideously selfish reason to procreate. If you don't otherwise want to have children, it basically means 20+ years of unhappiness - during the prime of your life - in order to buy some unreliable insurance against the sunset years. It is not fair to children to have parents who don't truly want them. How would you feel if you knew your own parents had you for that reason?

Secondly, it just doesn't work that way. There are plenty of lonely people in nursing homes who do have children. There are plenty of people who are self-sufficient until their last days. Lastly, being childfree opens up other options. We may not all be rich, but we have $500k-1M more than we would if we had children. And we have no heirs. It is possible that money can buy high-quality nursing care, life in a high-end retirement complex or nursing home, or a bunch of nieces and nephews eager to be your favorite.

I still don't understand what this article was supposed to tell us. They're telling us that this will increasingly be a problem, an over-obvious conclusion from the frequently-cited statistics of increasing childlessness. Yet doesn't an article usually have some sort of a conclusion? Their failure to turn up what took me a few minutes to find leaves us with two options. Either the article was meant to be alarmist, or was meant to inform us just how poor the research skills of the journalist are.

One last thought: I hate it when people tell me "My kids will be taking care of you when you get old." Really? Then I suppose I'll be paying their salary. You're welcome.

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3 comments:

Vinny C said...

Oh no, people will get old without having children to not visit them in the nursing homes! EVERYBODY PANIC!

I wonder if this alarmist crap has been happening over the long haul.

"Oh no, you only have four kids!?! Who will work the farm?"
"Well, of your six kids, three left home, one's an idiot, one married a preacher, and the other's in jail. I took the money I had saved from not having two extra kids and bought myself a John Deere. And I have enough left over to buy another farm. Let me know when you want to sell. My daughter the lawyer will draw up the paperwork."

Strawberry Muffin said...

The "crisis" of having more retirees than workers to pay for them will happen to Gen Y (my generation), since Baby Boomers will be funded by Echo Boomers. But, who the hell cares, since we won't have pensions anyway.

Anonymous said...

If one chooses to be a parent, one should be a parent. A child should never be made to feel as though he/she must parent the parent. That is irresponsible of the one who decided to be a parent.