Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Party of one

During lunch today I went to the Becker Brown Bag talk, given by Gary Becker. He spoke about the economics of the worldwide decrease in fertility. (By fertility he means the number of children being born, not the number of children able to be born - he's not dealing with medical infertility.)

Anyway, like most Brown Bag talks it was a little too short and so a little too narrow in its scope, but he made me very happy by saying that the decrease in number of children born is due to parents choosing quality over quantity. Of course he qualified the word "quality" a coupole of different ways but I'm really just happy to take-away the knowledge that as an only child I represent quality over quantity. (And of course exemplary modesty.)

Really he meant that parents throw all their money ("investment") at fewer children instead of spreading it among many, so my parents have literally and figuratively put all their eggs in my basket. Which is fine by me.

The interesting result of this decline in fertility is that economy-of-scale activities will start to have lower rates of return and people could suffer because of it. The example Becker gave was R&D, as in R&D in drugs or technology could become less worthwhile and thus become less desirable, at least for commercial firms.

He also mentioned that some countries were trying to combat their declining fertility by subsidizing births (France was one of the countries that had done this, with limited success after expending LOTS of money). I wonder how much my parents would have demanded to agree to a second child after dealing with me?

1 comment:

  1. Two Vals? TWO VALS?! I don't think it's a question of money, but whether the world could handle such a thing. I am not sure.