Pope Francis calls for policies that assist large families [CWN]


Expressing gratitude “for the example of love for life that you guard from conception to natural death,” Pope Francis offered praise for large families during a December 28 meeting with …



I’d be happy if policies didn’t attack and try to penalize large families.


Some years ago I read that if the child tax deduction was the same (adjusted for inflation) as it was when Truman was president, it would be $20,000.00 per child. Probably almost no family with four children paid income tax at all.

Of course, the government was not into peoples’ pockets as deep back then, and it’s easier for the government to let taxes go up, in effect, by “stealth” so they don’t notice as much. (Yes, I know about the bogus 90% tax rate that nobody paid.)

An expectable effect would be a lower birth rate, which, along with the tax money, is a “twofer” for the left.


The article from the link was very brief, and no specifics were offered. However, tax policy should be neutral with regard to family size.


While a smaller child tax exemption might have some effect on the birth rate, my guess is that the magnitude would be small. One tax policy that probably reduced the birth rate is the lowering of marginal tax rates that started under Reagan. The lower marginal rates likely increased the labor force participation of married women and this higher participation probably reduced birth rates. Not saying that lower tax rates or higher labor force participation are bad things, but an unintended consequence could be lower birth rates.


Hope you didn’t get a rotator cuff tear making a reach like that. :wink:


I am not sure what you think I am reaching for. Women’s labor force participation is highly influenced by the marginal tax rate. Women earning money in the labor market also has a big impact on their fertility.


Just joking with you. I won’t even ask for evidence. I will agree that female participation in the labor force appears to have an impact on fertility. Interesting to compare the “women working” rates and fertility rates in some of the European countries. Hard to dispute that women being employed has a significant effect on the number of children they have.

Of course, the tax rates in some of those countries are mind boggling as well when one considers the income tax, provincial taxes, VAT and sales taxes. I realize it varies from place to place. Might not be possible for people in some of those countries to live and also pay their taxes without both spouses working full time. Lifestyle choices might not tell the whole story or even very much of it. In that sense, I can at least tentatively agree to your first proposition; that marginal tax rates can affect female participation in the labor force.

It would be interesting to see a study comparing inflation-adjusted incomes in, say, the 1950s to the tax rates actually paid (not just theoretically) by persons at different levels of income and the cost of living for the same period. Something like that surely exists, but I have never seen one.

Of course, one suspects, without really knowing, that certain things were relatively less expensive at the time. Some of that would have been dictated by choices available. I’m old enough, for example, to remember that when I was a kid a new $10,000-$12,000 house was considered a pretty nice house. Of course, it only had 1,000 or 1200 square feet of living space. But it was affordable to people who worked on the line in non-union industrial jobs. At least around here that was true. Today, you couldn’t find a 1000 s.f. spec house even if you wanted one.


When I was growing up we had five tv channels, now less than 100 seems spartan. On the house size, part of the problem is the growth of zoning and other regulations since the sixties and seventies. In most suburban areas it is just not feasible to build small houses given our myriad of regulations. That may be less of an issue in rural areas. In one rural area where I have relatives you can park a mobile home on your property without any problem. They would never allow that in my current town.


Five TV stations? Luxury of luxuries! :slight_smile: When I was a kid, we had one, and it was in Tulsa, a good two hours away; all fuzzy and static-y (if that’s a word) and not receivable all the time. But then, we did live in the hills. It wasn’t long, though, before local stations came on line with good signals.

Most towns won’t allow mobile homes anywhere other than in mobile home parks, and many won’t allow any parks other than those that are “grandfathered” in.

Without really knowing, I would say house size is more a function of subdivision restrictions than it is of zoning, though.

I realize that sometimes there really seems to be little choice for a lot of people when it comes to that. Ferguson, Missouri and adjacent Florissant, for example, are places full of older, smaller homes, once tenanted by solidly middle class people. Now, they’re tenanted by people on the lower (but not lowest) income-earning range.

But one has to realize that there are other pressures. As neighborhoods go low income, they tend to go higher in crime rates and the schools go downhill. So, those who would even simply prefer better educations have the choices of (very expensive anymore) private schools or a move to relatively expensive suburbs farther out.

Not long ago, somebody on here posted a site purporting to establish that birth rates on the very low end of the socioeconomic scale are relatively high, but that they are as well at the high end. The broad middle, it appears, is where the “birth dearth” is the worst.
Or at least it seemed so from the site that was posted.

There is also a study purporting to show that lower middle and middle middle people tend not to marry, whereas higher income people do. One wonders why that is. Some have concluded that it’s a cultural degeneration.

But I also read a study (done in England as I recall) that highly educated people tend to have shallow gene pools, progressively, because on the high end (which isn’t all that large) people marry each other, and entry into that “club” is not terribly open to any kind of diversity, including genetic diversity. One sometimes wonders whether we’re no more than a generation away from living out scenes from “Pride and Prejudice”. After all, I have also read that young people in college have an (unseemly) curiosity about the wealth of their potential mates, and manage to find out as part of the “sifting process”. Likely, in some places and at some levels, that’s pervasive among parents as well.

Being a provincial and all, I might be coming late to a realization that socioeconomic classes are ossifying more rapidly and broadly than we would prefer to believe. There are, of course, exceptional people and exceptional places, but the rule is what?


Actually, it is both zoning and subdivision regulations plus other regulations such as building codes that all work to make houses larger than they otherwise would be. Many suburbs in particular practice what is called fiscal zoning. That is, they try and limit new development to those properties which will bring in a minimum amount of property tax. They never say this directly, but the courts are very generous in what they will allow towns to get away with. You usually need some public purpose, but it can be vague such as “preserving the rural character of the community” and that is usually sufficient. If you have a 3 acre minimum lot size, there is no way a developer will build a 1200 square foot house on 3 acres. There is no real need for a 3 acre minimum lot size in most cases, except it is a convenient way to keep poor people out and limit redistribution. Of course when the overwhelming majority of suburban residents are homeowners, politicians know they won’t get in trouble by making it harder to build new houses, since the value of existing homes will increase. Thus is the problem of excessive regulation in our economy.


Kudos to one of the few people who really GETS zoning regulations what they are really about. Nicely done (20 years in land development). The builder rule of thumb is that the final sale price of the home can’t be less than 4 times the cost of the improved lot or you won’t make money. So when silly local regulations add $10,000 to the cost of the lot, they add $40,000 to the cost of the finished home. Things like sidewalk on BOTH sides of the street, street lamps every 5 lots, 30 foot wide roads (26-27 is plenty), common land landscape features, entry monument signs, absurdly punitive stormwater detention sizing, etc.

To poster Mulligan, I have to wonder where you’ve been for the last 70 years. Tax policy hasn’t been neutral to family size since social security was invented. Fun fact: your social security deductions are NOT there to fund your future retirement, they are there to fund the checks to the CURRENT retirees. There will only be funds to pay for YOUR SS benefits if there are enough workers when you are 67. So if you had no kids and collect SS, you are a freeloader compared to those who accepted the cost burden of raising kids. No kids, no future people paying into SS. It’s fundamentally a tax imbalance that takes money away from those who have kids and gives to those who don’t.

If you want a tax policy that is neutral on family size, you pretty much need to abolish the whole SS and welfare state system. But as long as we have a system that sucks money off the productive workforce, there needs to be compensation for those who both pay the SS/welfare taxes and willingly incur the massive cost of raising the next generation of workers/taxpayers. Otherwise the massive financial disincentive for having children will exterminate our culture entirely. Europe is arguably already well over that line and averages about 1.5 kid per woman lifetime. Break even population replacement requires a 2.1 average. Not coincidentally, they have a MUCH more “generous” welfare system than we do. It just leaves people unable to afford children. Not so generous. Or smart.


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