Wendy Warcholik, Ph.D. | September 19, 2014

Policy Ideas for Safeguarding Our Children's Futures

Wendy Warcholik, Ph.D.

Given that children are the key to a prosperous economy, what lessons should our political leaders always keep in mind when crafting public policy? Allow me to suggest three.

First, the presence of state and national debt is economic theft from our children. Their tax burden as working adults will necessarily be higher because policymakers of their parents’ generation wanted to spend more than revenue allowed.

Second, the fertility rate of American women (births per woman) is on the decline. This is a problem. In the words of American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks, “When you stop having the humans, your life is limited and your prosperity is doomed.”

According to a February 2013 article by Joel Kotkin and Harry Siegel, “In 2007 the fertility rate in America was 2.12 and had been holding nearly steady for decades at about replacement rate — the highest level of any advanced country. In just half a decade since, the rate has dropped to 1.9, the lowest since 1920 (when reliable records began being kept), and just half of the peak rate in 1957, in the midst of the baby boom, according to the Pew Research Center.”

In a 2013 national poll on parenthood, the Pew Research Center asked mothers and fathers to identify their ideal work arrangement. A full 61 percent of mothers said they would rather work part-time or not at all while 75 percent of fathers preferred full-time work. It is important that policymakers consider the impact of policies on family budgets so that mothers have the opportunity to spend more time investing in their families.

Finally, we need a culture that promotes and embraces marriage if we are serious about investing in our children’s futures. In the July issue of Perspective, Scott Moody and I discussed the importance of marriage to people’s finances. And a recent study by Harvard economists (which I wrote about in the March issue of Perspective) found that coming from an intact family was the major determinant of an individual’s upward mobility.

Wendy Warcholik, Ph.D.

OCPA Research Fellow

Wendy P. Warcholik (Ph.D., George Mason University) is an OCPA research fellow. She formerly served as an economist at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, and was the chief forecasting economist for the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services. She is a co-creator (with J. Scott Moody) of the Tax Foundation’s popular “State Business Tax Climate Index.”

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