Single for life? The social costs of fewer families

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  • Magellanic Davis, CA
    July 1, 2013 10:09 p.m.

    //"And in the long term," wrote Jeff Wise recently in Slate, "on the order of centuries — we could be looking at the literal extinction of humanity." That is, if fertility rates worldwide settled at the 1.5 percent currently common in Europe, by 2300 the world's population would fall to 1 billion.//

    Where is the downside to this? 1 billion people does not equal extinction. Furthermore, this would only be a good thing. The Earth is suffering from human overpopulation; our current way of life is not sustainable. Reducing the population to 1 billion people would free up resources and allow each individual to have access to a greater amount of resources.

  • jeffcorry Orderville, Utah
    Feb. 12, 2013 4:42 p.m.

    I can only respond from my own experience. I was married at 26. I dated a lot before that, I also enjoyed the single life. I have a strong belief that the family is ordained of God and it is something I have always wanted. I am home from work after teaching school. One son is sitting next to me playing a game on the iPad. Another son is messing around with toys by the fireplace, my daughter and I just enjoyed ice cream together and my beautiful wife is teaching piano lessons. This is much better than anything I ever experienced as a single person. You may tell me that single life and family life can be equally fulfilling but I would disagree based on my experience. Family life is the greatest blessing in my life. I am much happier, much more fulfilled, and more able to recognize my gifts from God because of my experiences as a father. Sure, there are tough days that I forget what it is all about. More often and not though is a peace that comes to me knowing that things are good and I am happy.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Feb. 11, 2013 9:24 a.m.

    It is nice to read an article that shows, analytically, the importance of children. To watch all these governments in a panic trying to solve all of the problems associated with dwindling population is quite humorous and sad at the same time. Children are a blessing to present and future generations, something that can't be denied, even when self-centered living becomes the norm. Just last week an article in the Deseret News brought up the point of over population, something that was derided by some who posted their comments, as if 7 billion was somehow too much for this planet to bear! The problems of poverty are caused mostly by governments trying to make things better. When governments recognize the sacrifice and the faith that comes with a family, perhaps they won't continue to hold them up in derision. God bless men and women who get married and have a family, the source of real happiness!

  • flatlander Omaha, NE
    Feb. 10, 2013 6:35 p.m.

    Nature, which humans are part of, has had population ups and downs and manages to recover. Things like the plague, famine, war also reduce populations but they recovered. Hippie kids did not turn out the same as their parents. While I understand that hose single too long won't have kids, others will. Love mine but don't depend on them for my care.

  • Monsieur le prof Sandy, UT
    Feb. 9, 2013 4:05 p.m.

    Having children is what makes people into responsible adults. They learn about sacrifice and what it means to truly love others more than they love themselves. But personal growth is hard and takes work. That's why the immature choose to be children throughout their lives, selfishly doing whatever pleases them at the moment, free from responsibilities, and free from change. They may add little to society, but will still expect to be supported in their old age.

    The spoiled "Me first" generationmay may well prove to be the demise not only of our social system, but of our culture, as well.

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    Feb. 9, 2013 3:47 p.m.

    @ MelvinR

    By #3, you mean more consumers of earths finite resources, right?

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    Feb. 9, 2013 3:41 p.m.

    Fewer families mean fewer minivans. This is bad, because...?

  • wwookie Payson, UT
    Feb. 9, 2013 8:08 a.m.

    Solution to so many ills-

    Marriage is good when you have a compatible spouse. So don't marry until you are fully mature. In my case, 25.

    When married, have 2 to 3 children. On average, this creates a steady population column with one generation easily taking the place of he earlier one without the problems of overpopulation.

    Either you or your spouse should work full time. The other should work part time or if affordable, do charity work. Leave a space for another family to have someone get a good paying job. (This is also part of the reason marriage can be so beneficial to society)

    ...but alas, who would do this if not imposed by government, which would necessarily have to be a totalitarian state.

  • primavera provo, UT
    Feb. 8, 2013 4:06 p.m.

    I couldn't agree with HopScotch more. It is not your place to judge why someone is single. Assuming that they are all "distracted" by a career or "playing with toys" is wrong. None of us really know the true story of another's life. That said, why is it a bad thing for someone who's story hasn't played out the way they anticipated to enjoy what's good about their life - and yes, be OK. I don't think this means giving up on an opportunity to get married if it presents itself, but the idea that all single people should mope around and allow others to convince them that they should feel sorry for themselves or become neurotic about getting married is crazy. Please know your judgements are harmful to others and someday, you will receive your own judgement. Please, try to live your own life and enjoy the blessings you have and let others do the same.

  • Rynn Las Vegas, NV
    Feb. 8, 2013 6:31 a.m.

    I don't think it's selfish for someone to not have children. I think it's more selfish to have children so they can act as insurance for old age.

  • Austin Coug Pflugerville, TX
    Feb. 7, 2013 7:45 a.m.


    Populations that choose to have 2 or less kids as you suggest will eventually die out (minus immigration). This is proven fact. Wouldn't that be "selfish" and "irresponsable"? The irony of your namecalling is quite notable. Go read up on Russia and the struggles they are having right now as they are in a serious population decline. My only ask is that people get informed on this topic before trying to tell everyone else how many kids they can/should have. That is a personal decision and i give yout that same right without calling you names.

  • MelvinR Rexburg, ID
    Feb. 5, 2013 1:56 p.m.

    In my opinion there are three types of people. 1. Non producers, they take more from society than they give. If they have children, much of the time the children follow the same path. 2. Producers, they give more to society than they take. Examples would be creating business, jobs, or performing job where they can fully support themselves and pay more taxes than they derive benefit. 3. Producers with families, they are the most valuable to society because they do the same as the producers while raising by example more producers. Without producer families, the future generations are in for troubling times.

  • Liberal Ted Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 5, 2013 12:32 p.m.

    There is HOPE for CHANGE in a few generations afterall. The far left wing and the mentality and selfishness of people will deplete the population. Leaving those that actually care of and for little ones in the future. Let me explain about caring before people become upset. The democrat party is hijacked by those that feel the woman has a right to extinguish another human life, even when she willingly engages in a behavior and made a choice that wasn't forced upon her. She feels that it is her body rather than another human being that she is carrying. So with that sad definition she feels she can flush that life away as though it was a cancer or disease to have to deal with.

    A book and lenghty discussion could be written about this. But, since we're limited I'll leave it at that. How sad to think that one can choose to sleep around, create a human life and then legally murder the defensless child. Yet the democrats cry when there is a school shooting and claim to take the high road in defending the defensless.

    I guess when the victim isn't seen itdoesn'tmatter

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    Feb. 4, 2013 6:45 p.m.

    @John C.C.

    That's right. That's the personal responsibility Utah is famous for. Have all the kids you want - pay not taxes. Those of us who haven't been fortunate enough to have more than one will carry your load. That sounds fair.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 4, 2013 5:58 p.m.

    "Utah's H.B. 55, which would reduce the future tax deductions parents now receive for their children--a virtual reverse head tax."

    So, let me see if I understand this logic.

    If you don't get a tax deduction for your children, that constitutes a head tax?

    In Utah, it costs over $6000 per school kid per year. That will be over $70,000 to educate one kid thru high school.

    While I agree that we all benefit when kids get an education, I find it hard to fathom that some think that those without kids should pay more then you do to educate your children.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 4, 2013 5:47 p.m.

    Staying single and waiting to have kids would do the world a lot of good.

  • kishkumen American Fork, UT
    Feb. 4, 2013 5:44 p.m.

    I used to work with a lot of single women at an LDS owned company in Salt Lake City. These type of editorials published by the Deseret News (now on a daily basis) have the tendency to make single people feel really bad about themselves. However, as a person who has done it both ways (married and single), I know that life is awesome in either situation. So, don't listen to these people with narrow-minded views on life. You can be extremely happy in any situation in life.

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    Feb. 4, 2013 4:24 p.m.

    Unfortunately, we already have pressure in Utah to make parents more responsible for the cost of educating their children, as if they were a burden to society instead of our future. Representative Briscoe, (R-House District ) is right now sponsoring Utah's H.B. 55, which would reduce the future tax deductions parents now receive for their children--a virtual reverse head tax. If anything, government should be increasing the personal deductions. By raising children parents are building the future of our society.

  • rlsintx Plano, TX
    Feb. 4, 2013 3:45 p.m.

    As wonderful, albeit challenging as my life has been - I cannot fathom being of the mind to NOT have had children knowing they would have great experiences like my own parents provided me. Beyond my parent's sacrifice, the kindness and great interactions I've had with people high and low.... I Just can't imagine myself making a choice that would end or highly limit the continuity of life and experiences for generations of other who could follow; who knows what solutions they might provide, what amazing people they might be and serve and the value they might add to culture and history? I find choosing to end the chain to be perhaps the most judgmental and pessimistic act available, given the potential of a child.

  • KJB1 Eugene, OR
    Feb. 4, 2013 2:34 p.m.

    I have to agree with Hutterite here. As much as I love being a parent, it isn't remotely for everybody and we shouldn't be guilted into trying to live up to the DN's norms. I have the greatest daughter a man could ever hope for and that's all I want to have. It's odd that the same people who like to go about about living within one's means and taking personal responsibility are the ones who want to pressure people into having the biggest families they can as soon as possible.

  • BYU Track Star Los Angeles, CA
    Feb. 4, 2013 2:30 p.m.

    @AZ Rocks.

    Why should a Deity be involved in whether a person remains single or not? Unless the Deity actively provides potential spouses to the Singletons out there. Personally, if the Singletons out there are actively looking for spouses they will find them . Its all a numbers game.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    Feb. 4, 2013 2:04 p.m.

    I think the real number to look at is the dependency rate. That is what sharp changes in the fertility rate tend to cause. We have seen this with the Baby Boom Generation who overcrowded classrooms in the early years. Then they made it possible to provide generous pensions for the World War II generation when they went to work. But now they are entering retirement themselves. This would argue for a stable birthrate.

  • BYU Track Star Los Angeles, CA
    Feb. 4, 2013 1:49 p.m.

    Being single without children, while paying taxes and for schools and what not is such a bad thing as this article suggests?

    After WW II the Soviet Union, now Russia, after losing so many men and to a lesser extent women wanted to repopulate its country. The Soviets provided economic incentives for Soviet Women to have babies with or without husbands. Well Soviet Males took advantage of this policy and many practiced a secular form of Polygamy. New Russia is still suffering from this replenishment program. The author shouldn't wish too hard for something without considering the unintended consequences

  • clehman Sandy, UT
    Feb. 4, 2013 1:21 p.m.

    @Mountanman -- Good for you. Some of us would like the opportunity, but aren't about to jump into something with the wrong person just because they're available... as if it were some kind of merit badge we were earning. "Get a wife". Check. Now I can be happy.

    @Californian -- Irresponsible comment. Not everyone who is single thought their lives would turn out this way. Sometimes it's not a choice. I don't consider the 'available women' much of a choice at this point. Hoping for a miracle, but as faith has failed me over and over again in this regard, I'd rather spend my life doing constructive things than sitting around moping about why God hasn't sent a miracle to my door.

  • Patrick Henry West Jordan, UT
    Feb. 4, 2013 12:03 p.m.


    You said "They will be faced with the care of 12 parents and grandparents. This is an impossible tasks." You are right it is an impossible task, but also an unrealistic expectation that you hold. You are responsible to fund your retirement and that includes any medical care that you may need.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 4, 2013 10:37 a.m.

    @Arizona Rocks
    He issued that commandment when there were only 2 people. Now we have what... 7 billion? Ever notice all those articles about Utah and Nevada water disputes? There's a limit to how many people we can fit on this planet with the resources it has. I will not attempt to say what the limit is, merely to suggest that there is such a limit.

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    Feb. 4, 2013 10:35 a.m.

    A cousin and I have agonized for many years about a childless uncle and aunt (unable to have children). The bio-uncle is a difficult man and after 59 years of marriage Aunt R. bailed out (with the help of a niece). We are relieved we don't have her care to consider, but when she left the uncle didn't know how to write checks, clean house, prepare meals, etc. Each of us spent significant time last year trying to help him determine his course. The cousin arranged for his care in assisted living, but we still have to deal with his personal property, try to give him emotional support and there are many other details to address. Of course there are finances too. He was a professional with investments and preparations, but they are inadequate. I am so glad I have children, and though I don't want to be a burden on them, we have helped them so I hope they will be willing to help us when we need it. Children are a blessing in countless ways.

  • Mukkake Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 4, 2013 10:02 a.m.

    Raise the retirement age. Problem solved.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 4, 2013 9:54 a.m.

    There is no right or wrong way to go thru life. Having kids or not, or getting married or not is a personal choice.

    And for many, being single or being childless is the right choice.

    It is rather presumptuous for anyone to tell others how they should live their lives.

    Do what is right for you. Leave others alone.

  • bluebullet94 ,
    Feb. 4, 2013 9:38 a.m.

    I have a 29 year old sister who has dated many different men over the years and never found the right one. We as siblings have been supportive of whatever path she chooses, but I can see her fading more and more into the contented single life rather than pursue a life with marriage and kids. She says she is happy, but we can all tell that she is finding temporary placeholders to fill her time and existence.

    I honestly hope she can stay happy as a single person, but I honestly believe that it cannot be lasting happiness and eventually she will feel lonely and depressed if she chooses the single life over the married life. I know that for me, 13 years of marriage and 4 kids have been my greatest adventure and I can't imagine living my life without those 5 people surrounding me and supporting me everyday. It is hard and its a sacrifice, but when I'm 60 I'm going to look back and remember my 4 year old watching the super bowl and cheering with me...what will Seth have to look back upon that will fill him with joy?

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    Feb. 4, 2013 8:41 a.m.

    @Arizona Rocks

    The word "replenish" means "to make full or complete again, as by supplying that which is used up." In other words, replenish means to restore the level of something to the level at which is was before. Unfortunately, too many Christians believe replenish means to restore to a level above what it was before.

    My wife and I are active LDS and we have two kids. There are two of us. We have done our part to "replenish the earth." Replenishing does not mean two people having eight kids in any way, shape, or form.

  • Arizona Rocks Phoenix, AZ
    Feb. 4, 2013 8:15 a.m.

    Not one of the 18 comments mentioned God. God told us in the Bible to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. Families are the foundation of God's plan of happiness and why this world would be created so that His spirit children can come to earth to gain experience and be tested and to learn to walk in God's light and having faith in Him by keeping His commandments. He knew that we would make mistakes as we experience life. Some are big mistakes. That is why there needs to be a Savior to atone for our sins. His name is Jesus Christ. The Son of God. Not only has he atoned for our sins if we would repent and not repeat them but he also wants us to give Him our sorrows and hurts through no fault of our own. Jesus suffered all these things for us so we could walk with Him and talk with Him. Our Father in Heaven is the answer to these problems discussed in this article. Ask Him personally what each of us should do. If we do these things He tells us it will be a better world.

  • Harley Rider Small Town, CT
    Feb. 4, 2013 8:14 a.m.

    Before one has kids they should be able to show that they can-

    * Provide for them - ie- be able to SUPPORT Them
    * Be an on hands Parent - Social Services is not suppose to raise your children and neither is their grandparents.

    The government has chosen to reward un-employed people by paying them to have babies. And to pay them extra if each new child born is from a different father. (How many Baby Mommas You Gots) So those who have 5 or 6 children can be paid quite well. Sadly when our government signed all those trade agreements ( Nafta Gatt) the manufacturing jobs by the millions went with them. So instead of working they manufacture babies as their job.

    These young yuppies think that traveling the world , picking up and moving whenever the mood strikes them is what life is all about, well they will miss out on life's biggest joy - holding their newborn , watching their kids grow up and fly the nest and all in between. And then one day the grandkids start arriving and the cycle repeats.

    But each has to seek their own path and not all have what it takes to be a parent.

  • DGDENTON Gainesville, TX
    Feb. 4, 2013 7:52 a.m.

    One of my granddaughters and her husband have chosen to have one child. That child will be faced with the care of her parents plus the four grandparents as they age. I'm assuming I will be dead as will be her other great grandparents. If she marries a man who is also an only child, They will be faced with the care of 12 parents and grandparents. This is an impossible tasks. There will be no one to share the burden. I'm not even considering the possibility of that couple having a child. Multiply this scenario by millions and society will not be able to handle the care of the aged who will have to be abandoned left to their own devices. Probably euthanasia of the aged will be the answer unless they have someone to agree to care for them.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Feb. 4, 2013 7:44 a.m.

    What makes a house a home? It's a family to me. It seems that every thing is upside down, and the meaning of words aren't the same what I thought they mean. So to me there is a homeless problem.

  • Albert Maslar CPA (Retired) Absecon, NJ
    Feb. 4, 2013 7:42 a.m.

    The historical fact is that society depends upon families for survival of the race and survival of the culture that collapses in the absence of the family. It is no wonder there are so many violent acts on a nearly daily basis as there is no common respect for life and that unfortunately starts at the very top of government. Disrespect the smallest life and soon disrespect for all life.

  • utahboni Ogden, UT
    Feb. 4, 2013 6:51 a.m.

    With 6 billion people in the world, we need to promote the idea of single-for-life and staying childless. The earth can only support just so many people before we run out of resources. It is irresponsible and selfish to have more than two children.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Feb. 4, 2013 6:44 a.m.

    I will always be grateful towards my LDS membership for the very reason that had I not had a spiritual reason to marry and have a family, I probably never would've even bothered with dating. I was one of these single dudes very content to do my own hobbies and pursue lesser goals. It wasn't til after I got married and had kids that I realized just how fortunate I have been to be a part of it. It is a great challenge, full of hard work, sacrifice and the need for strong character, but it is also the most rewarding thing I've ever done.

    They say no success in the world can compensate for failure in the home, but I say, No failure in the world can cloud over a successful loving family life. I've had setbacks at work, in professions, education and physical health, but my loving family has kept me positive and happy to keep going and trying harder. Families are forever!

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    Feb. 4, 2013 6:38 a.m.

    I'm the oldest of six, have five children from 29-39 yrs old, none married, no grandkids. My sister 11 yrs younger has 6 grands, 5 from one 29 year old! My sis two years my junior has 10 kids (3 steps), and 10 grands. No rhyme or reason, no forced marriages...

    But my southern Cal "pagan" children are not stressed about getting hitched or procreating under threat of a bioligical clock. They'd rather "do it right". While we all love the cousins and grandkids immensely, it is obvious which families have the bulk of the work. Maybe mine are reticent about jumping into the diaper bag life, maybe they love their toys and sports too much...

    But I prefer the grankids' arrival with the anticipation of planned acceptance, to the hectic lives the cute little "oopsies" caused! Oh, wait- I had a few of those myself back in my Mormon days. Darn that Brigham Quiver-full Philosophy!

    At least there's no regrets for the lives God sent into each home. That should be the goal.

  • Another Perspective Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 4, 2013 6:33 a.m.

    If he doesn't have a girl friend or only one that he see's infrequently, this seems like a lonely kind of life.

  • Californian Santa Ana, CA
    Feb. 4, 2013 3:35 a.m.

    All the people who choose to be single may be unpleasantly surprised and forgotten senior citizens. Who will care for the elderly? Without children or extended families, I foresee the extremely costly warehousing of millions of elderly in the coming years. People living the "me first" life early on will reap sorrow and abandonment to, at best, a sterile system in their final years. Life is a bell curve with dependency on others at both ends of the curve.

  • canduny Tucson, AZ
    Feb. 4, 2013 1:20 a.m.

    As mentioned, immigration keeps national populations growing throughout Europe and America. Like in all of nature, species compete for space and resources. It's only the european related groups and the mainland chineese groups that have chosen habits that will remove them from the planet. Eventually, America will be a hispanic nation, while Europe will become Middle Eastern and African.

  • ParkCityAggie Park City, Ut
    Feb. 4, 2013 12:37 a.m.

    Different strokes for different folks. I'm married 18 years with three kids. Would I wish that for everyone? Of course not. Not everyone wants a family and a fancy house, picket fence, two cars parked outside. That reality is not shared by or desired by all. So why worry about it? The population of the earth is nearing 7 billion people. We should be glad that not everyone is choosing to propagate the species. If we're so worried about people growing old single then we probably should be embracing marriages between consenting adults regardless of the gender make up of each partner. Something else we ought not be worrying about.

  • HopScotch Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 3, 2013 10:24 p.m.

    There are certainly a lot of people (married and single) who like to focus on this subject and think that they can generalize the profile of those who are single and married without children (and married with children).

    Yes, there are certainly single people who have decided to remain single and there are a lot of couples who have chosen not to have children. But there are also a lot of single people (myself included) and married people without children who didn't expect to be in the situation we are in.

    That being said, why penalize someone or a couple because they didn't have children? We all need to be good to each other, no matter what our personal situation. And, we should all strive to be happy, productive, and fulfilled people. I spend a lot of time supporting nieces, nephews, and children of my friends and I believe in family and care deeply about mine.

    Remember - everyone has a story and no statistic will ever tell it. We need to respect, support, and love each other no matter what our personal set-up is.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 2, 2013 6:54 p.m.

    Maybe we can all be like Britney Spears and divorce through text message or have a 48 hour marriage.

    Kim Kardashian marriage? x7 weeks?

    You want to see what is brining any 'harm' to marriage?

    Look at the ones who abuse it.

    Not the ones denied marriage.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Feb. 2, 2013 1:56 p.m.

    The greatest joys I have experienced in my life have been with my wife can children.

  • iron&clay RIVERTON, UT
    Feb. 2, 2013 12:04 p.m.

    Time goes by so fast.... If I had somehow been DISTRACTED in my twenties from marriage and having children, well, I would not now, as a so-called senior citizen, have the life-long companionship of my thirty-something year old children and a posterity with which I am so happy and honored.

  • brobrigham Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 2, 2013 8:44 a.m.

    A very interesting article, but the writer neglected an important part of the equation - immigration. The statistics focused on industrialized nations, but the birthrate has not dropped off nearly as much in Latin America and Africa. The elderly in industrialized places could be cared for by those born in poorer countries. The host countries would be affected - for instance, Europe will increasingly become Muslim, the United States more Latino, etc. Yes, cultural heritage might be lost and the demographics of nations would change, but I doubt we'd see the end of the human race. The more "conservative" parts of the globe are still having children. They'll just create a world very different from the one we know.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    Feb. 2, 2013 8:32 a.m.

    Under the current US system, those without children are helping to pay for the education of other's children. This is done under the premise that eventually they will see a benefit from this contribution. If the tax/social security structure is changed so that those with children pay less (or none at all) into social security, or the retirement money collected from their children's pay checks is earmarked as for them only, it is entirely possible that the pushback will result in those without children not helping to educate children who will provide them no benefit.

    The article hints at but does not explore one major flaw with the premise of continual growth. It is mentioned in the article that urban density leads to less kids. The article points to suburban living as a solution but than says that only works as long as there is space for suburban growth. Keeping in mind we need a certain amount of land for food and resource production, space is a limited commodity. The model presented in the article requires constant population growth - what happens when we run out of space for suburban living?

  • Millsap fan Taylorsville, UT
    Feb. 2, 2013 8:27 a.m.

    Joseph Smith said that someday only Latter Day Saint women would want to have children...

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    Feb. 2, 2013 8:16 a.m.

    Under the current US system, those without children are helping to educate the children if others. Making them pay for their own retirement

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Feb. 2, 2013 8:11 a.m.

    Trying to guilt trip people about social costs isn't going to work. There are real benefits to not having to support a family, and it is personally fulfilling to know you don't have to be responsible for someone else in uncertain times.