The financial burden of nonaborted children

An op ed writer in yesterday's TimesHerald.com justified the need to continue aborting due to the fiscal drain these children would otherwise cause us. They would be financial burdens to our taxes, insurance, and foster care system, so the writer postulates.

She does spin one point I say great to:

If legally-recognized "life" begins at conception, there will be serious economic ramifications. Currently, dependent exemptions on taxes are only permitted for children that are alive outside the womb. But if life starts at conception, so too should "dependent" status.

However, she glaringly overlooks our dried-up Social Security system, precisely so because the payers have been killed by abortion.

She also overlooks the growing crisis of young medical workers to care for the old, fat-cat pro-aborts. Etc., etc., etc.

Dr. Allan Carlson of the Howard Center estimated last year that the cumulative lost income of 45 million aborted children is nearly $4 trillion. He estimated the lost net Social Security income will be $118 billion in 2010. See page 2 to access his paper, including endnotes.

Corrected October 26, 2004

THE ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF ABORTION:
A SPECULATION

BY ALLAN CARLSON*


Table 1: Annual Income Lost Through One Year’s Abortions
Men: $44,687 x .497 x 1,555,000 x 2.0 = $69,071,354,000
Women: $37,451 x .503 x 1,555,000 x 2.0 = $58,585,722,000
Total additional national income, in 2010 (using 2004 dollars) = $127,657,076,000


Table 2: Annual U.S. Income Lost Through 45 Million Legal Abortions Since 1970

Ages 35-44:
Men: $61,482 x .497 x 9,347,000 x 2.0 = $571,224,220,000
Women: $39,770 x .503 x 9,347,000 x 2.0 = $373,960,560,000
Ages 25-34:
Men: $44,687 x .497 x 35,636,000 x 2.0 = $1,582,911,100,000
Women: $37,451 x .503 x 35,636,000 x 2.0 = $1,342,611,400,000
Total additional national income, in 2028 (using 2004 dollars) = $3,870,707,280,000

*Allan Carlson is President of The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society and Distinguished Fellow in Family Policy Studies at the Family Research Council. His books include The Swedish Experiment in Family Politics, The Family in America, and The ‘American Way’.

The weight of expert opinion in recent decades has been against the birth of children. While using ever more sophistication methods of calculating the “optimum population” or “carrying-capacity” of different lands, the basic theory behind this craft has not deviated far from its Malthusian base.
Asserting that human numbers grew in geometric ratio while food supplies expanded only arithmetically, the Rev. Thomas R. Malthus concluded that the necessary and inescapable results of population growth were poverty, misery, and vice. Neo-Malthusians such as John Stuart Mill brought a certain optimism to this message in the mid 19th century, arguing that rational contraception could break the cycle and limit family size to a no-growth level.
While the Malthusian scenario declared such a development impossible, population and per-capita wealth in Europe and North America grew together at historically unprecedented rates between 1850 and 1950. Moreover, the “baby boom” of the 1950’s was accompanied by a new economic boom that defied the gloomy prognostications of most economists.
Nonetheless, latter-day Malthusians continued to press their case against natural population increase and particularly against the “three-child family,” the normative engine of modern American and European growth. In an influential 1958 article, sociologist Richard Meier argued that “catastrophe” would follow continued Western population expansion. Coercive controls on Western reproduction, he admitted, would be politically difficult to implement. But there were other paths to the same goal: “Satisfying lifetime roles should be established which do not require parenthood, but would, in effect, discourage it…Under this system, a fraction of the adult population could be depended upon to be sterile and this fraction must be modifiable by incentives normally available to democratic governments.” Specific suggestions included moving women into jobs—including truck driving, engineering, sales, and fire fighting—that made a stable home life and fertility difficult, as well as making divorce easier.

DEPRESSING FERTILITY BY COERCION AND STEALTH
Writing for Eugenics Quarterly in 1966, Edward Pohlmann stressed the need to bring the American baby boom to a halt: “The population avalanche may be used to justify…contemplation of large-scale attempts to manipulate family size desires, even rather stealthily.” The climate of opinion should be altered, he wrote, to portray childlessness and small families as “good,” and the large family of three or more children as the flaunting of the common good for “selfish ends.” Pohlmann’s strategy was to focus on high-income elites, as the means of turning the government into an anti-natalist tool.
Success for this strategy came quickly. Later the same year, the U.S. Department of Interior issued a document calling “overpopulation” the “greatest threat to quality living in this country,” a danger to “Americans’ noble goals of optimum education for all, universal abundance, enriched leisure, equal opportunity, quality, beauty, and creativity.” Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall “vigorously challenged” the myth that natural population growth was the key to prosperity and the good life: “Instead, it is more likely to lead to poverty, degradation, and despair.” The same document favorably cited Julian Huxley’s comment that mankind had become the “cancer of the planet.”
The federal government’s campaign against American fertility reached high boil in the early 1970’s. Part of the stimulus came from the success of Paul Ehrlich’s book The Population Bomb. His call for government action against marital fertility was candid and complete: “Coercion? Perhaps, but coercion in a good cause….We must be relentless in pushing for population control.” His specifics ranged from a powerful U.S. Department of Population and Environment which would secure the right to abortion for all women and develop a “mass sterilization agent” for placement in U.S. water supplies to a taxation system that would effectively penalize all families with children. The 1972 report of the prestigious President’s Commission on Population Growth and the American Future focused on ways to end the “three-child system” in the United States. While admitting that this family size norm would “cause more rapid growth in the size of the economy” and “multiply the volume of goods and services produced,” the panel instead focused on the positive economies of population decline. The report suggested, for example, that per capita income would be 15 percent higher by the year 2000 under a two-child system, simply because there would be fewer non-productive children’s mouths to feed. The document dismissed concern over paying for support of the dependent elderly by emphasizing their relatively high death rate. Principle strategies for the future control of Americans were the promotion of abortion on demand, the heavy taxation of large families, and federally encouraged criticism of any “tradition or custom” that affirmed parenthood and family.
Measuring subsequent changes against intent, this push by social scientists and government elites to reduce American fertility was a dazzling success. Attitudes toward the bearing of children certainly changed. In 1967, 55.3 percent of American women, ages 30-34, still expected to have four or more children. By 1982, that figure had plunged to only 11.5 percent. Through the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade voiding the abortion laws of all fifty states, abortion on demand became a reality. The number of legal abortions climbed from 9,000 in 1967 to 744,600 in 1973, and 1,555,900 in 1980, a figure which as fallen somewhat in subsequent years, to about 1,300,000 in 2000. Since 1967, when state abortion laws began to be liberalized, 45 million legal abortions have occurred.
If the neo-Malthusian argument is correct, this nation has been spared the economic burden of 45 million non-producers, and our per capita GNP should have climbed accordingly. However, if this number is viewed through a non-Malthusian economic lens, a different picture emerges: a picture of 45 million potential workers and thinkers not available to the work force of the early 21st century.

OUR HAUNTED ECONOMY
In 2004, it is true, many of these economic ghosts would still be a net drag on society. The negative effects of a naturally growing population occur early, in the private and public costs of raising children in a society where laws and regulations strip children of economic value. Indeed, a nation can easily lift its short-term living standard by reducing its number of non-producing children: put another way, a nation can enjoy short-term benefits by consuming its human capital. An argument could be made that our nation’s per capita economic growth in the 1980’s and 1990’s rested, in part, on this strategy.
Over the long run, however, this elimination of human capital carries a cost. As one commentator explains: “This is because the most important positive effects of additional people—improvement of productivity through both the contribution of new ideas and also the learning-by-doing consequent upon increased production volume—happen in the long run, and are cumulative.” Is there a way to estimate what the loss might be?
In addressing this question, it is important to acknowledge that if legal abortions simply replaced illegal abortions, there would be no economic effect. There is evidence, however, suggesting that legal abortion has a substantial independent, negative effect on fertility. One cross-national study of several European peoples found that total fertility rates would have been from 20 to 90 percent higher had induced abortion not been available. Other studies have pointed toward a similar relationship. Looking specifically at the United States, a research team using public health statistics concluded that the level of illegal abortions between 1940 and 1967 was much lower than previously assumed, as low as 39,000 in 1950, and averaging less than 100,000. While the deterrent effect of illegal abortion must undoubtedly be taken into account, these numbers suggest that legal abortion does in fact reduce net births and, conversely, that a substantial number of these births would have occurred if abortion had remained illegal after 1966.
With these comments and reservations noted, it remains an interesting speculation to calculate the phantom economic value of the potential lives lost to abortion. Such a calculation actually ties into a long effort to determine the money value of a human life.
At one time, of course, the calculation of discounted human life energy took place in the free market of the slave auction. While the immorality of slavery is clear, it is important to note for our purpose here that the value of a young, healthy male (discounted for the cost of training, future material support, and risk of death) on the open market in the late 1850’s reached about $1,800, while a first class blacksmith brought $2,500, a substantial sum for the time.
Theoretical efforts to resolve the same question date back to the 17th century and the work of William Petty. Arguing that the average expenditure of England’s population was £7 per head per year, he calculated “£80 to be the value of each Head of Man, Woman, and Child, and of adult persons twice as much; from whence we may learn to compute the loss we have sustained by the plague; by the slaughter of men in war; and by sending them abroad into the service of foreign Princes.” Later commentators have been surprised by the relative accuracy of Petty’s work, particularly as a guide to taxation.
Writing in 1853, English statistician William Farr developed a system for calculating the present worth of a man’s net future earnings: that is, his future earnings less his personal cost of living. Using the agricultural laborer as his base, Farr calculated that at age 15 such a person had a value of £191; at age 25, £246. German mathematician R. Ludtge, in an 1873 article, stressed the “insurance value” of a man, computed as the present worth of the average net future earnings of persons of a given age. In addition, he underscored the pecuniary value of the individual “to his family or other interested persons.” The eminent classical British economist Alfred Marshall also emphasized that the cost of producing an efficient man, or human capital, had a powerful social component: “It must be taken as part of the broader problem of the cost of production of efficient men together with the women who are fitted to make their homes happy, to bring up their children vigorously in body and mind, truthful, cleanly, gentle, and brave.” Writing in 1910-11, French economist Alfred Balliol calculated “the social value” of a man to be 23,600 Francs in the United States, 20,700 Francs in Britain, and 10,100 Francs in Western Russia. The economic value of one Frenchman, he continued, was equivalent to thirty tons of wheat. Adopting Farr’s basic approach (the present value of a man’s gross future earnings, less that part expended on himself), statisticians Louis Dublin and Alfred Lotka used data from the 1920’s to calculate the social worth of an average American wage earner, age 40, as $32,261. Using the year 1950, economist Burton A. Weisbord valued “the aggregate gross value of human male capital” in the United States to be $2,752,000,000,000; for males of all ages, this averaged out as $36,602 per person.
At one level, all such attempts rest on a certain whimsy, for they must overlook numerous minor factors and variations and, even so, are rooted in the technology and price structure of their time. Nonetheless, they do serve as useful counterpoints to those Malthusian arguments that implicitly assume the marginal economic value of a life to be zero, or negative.
GRIM ARITHMETIC
As an exercise in the spirit of Petty, Farr, Billiol, and Dublin, we might ask, “What would be the impact of 1.5 million additional lives on the U.S. economy?”
To derive a number, let us make a few arbitrary assumptions:
(1) Children not aborted would have become “wanted,” either by the decision of the mother to keep the child or through adoption.
(2) When projecting an individual’s earnings into the future, cancel out two factors: (a) an expectation that real earnings will, on average, rise by 2 percent per year; and (b) an average annual discount rate of 2 percent.
(3) In determining average future annual money income, utilize figures provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2001, the median money income of a U.S. male, 25-34 years old, was $40,895; for those ages 35-44, $56,265. For U.S. women, the comparable figures were $34,273 for those ages 25-34, and $36,395 for those ages 35 to 44. These figures include all adult persons in the relevant age categories, regardless of whether they are engaged in full or part-time employment, and regardless of their race and marital status. The folk conjured up here are, in short, to be thoroughly average. To translate 2001 figures into 2004 dollars, assume an adjustment of 3 percent a year, delivering figures of: men (ages 25-34), $44,687; women (ages 25-34), $37,451; men (ages 35-44), $61,482; women (ages 35-44), $39,770.
(4) Among the age cohorts considered here, .497 are men, and .503 are women.
(5) A conservative economic multiplier, measuring the stimulative effect of an individual’s economic activity on others, would be 2.0 (a figure which assumes a marginal propensity to consume of 0.50).
The calculated impact on national income of 1.555 million economically active lives, if born in 1980, would in the year 2010 then be $127,657,076,000. (See table 1).

Table 1:
Men: $44,687 x .497 x 1,555,000 x 2.0 = $69,071,354,000
Women: $37,451 x .503 x 1,555,000 x 2.0 = $58,585,722,000
Total additional national income, in 2010 (using 2004 dollars) = $127,657,076,000

Of course, such additional persons draw on certain forms of social support, including public education and Social Security. In a 1983 paper, economist Marvin DeVries calculated that an additional 1.5 million people would run up total social welfare costs (in 1983 dollars) of $240.9 billion during their first 18 years and after retirement at age 65. Adjusted into 2004 dollars, the figure becomes $451.4 billion. Divided by a working life span of 47 years, we secure the figure of $9.60 billion to be deducted each year. For the year 2010, this leaves a net increase in national income of approximately $118 billion, even after the phantom children have paid for their own public education and socially funded retirement.
A more interesting number comes as we look at the cumulative impact of abortion. Between 1970 and 2003, approximately 45 million legal abortions occurred in the United States. Of these, 9,347,000 occurred in the 1970-79 period, and 35,636,000 in the 1980-2003 period. For the year 2028, the economic effect of these additional 45 million Americans would be $3,870,707,280,000 (see table 2).

Table 2:
Ages 35-44:
Men: $61,482 x .497 x 9,347,000 x 2.0 = $571,224,220,000
Women: $39,770 x .503 x 9,347,000 x 2.0 = $373,960,560,000
Ages 25-34:
Men: $44,687 x .497 x 35,636,000 x 2.0 = $1,582,911,100,000
Women: $37,451 x .503 x 35,636,000 x 2.0 = $1,342,611,400,000
Total additional national income, in 2028 (using 2004 dollars) = $3,870,707,280,000

This figure approaching $4 trillion offers interesting extensions. If the government’s budget deficit is a concern, for example, and if one assumes that 25 percent of income goes toward federal taxes of one sort or another, this lost population would have generated an additional $968 billion in tax dollars in 2028 alone. If one looks only at Social Security, additional wage or self-employed income of this magnitude would be taxed at a total rate of at least 15.30 percent, which represents a lost $592 billion in payroll tax revenue in that year alone.
Such calculations, of course, are merely illustrative, and subject to many caveats. Nonetheless, they suggest the magnitude of the usually overlooked economic consequences of abortion.

ENDNOTES

Thomas R. Malthus, Population: The First Essay (1799; rpt. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press), 5-6.
Richard L. Meier, “Concerning Equilibrium in Human Population,” Social Problems 6 (1958): 163-75.
Edward Pohlmann, “Mobilizing Social Pressures Toward Small Families,” Eugenics Quarterly 13 (1966): 122-26.
U.S. Department of the Interior, The Population Challenge…What it Means to America; United States Department of Interior Conservation Yearbook No. 2 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1966), 3, 4, 65.
Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb (New York: Ballantine, 1968), 135-151, 180-181.
Commission on Population Growth and the American Future (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1972), 12-15, 38-40, 98, 103-04. See also: Harriet F. Pilpel and Peter Ames, “Legal Obstacles to Freedom of Choice in the Areas of Contraception, Abortion, and Voluntary Sterilization in the United States,” in Commission on Population Growth and the American Future, Research Reports, Vol. VI, Aspects of Population Growth Policy, eds. Robert Parke, Jr. and Charles F. Westoff (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1972), 59-73; Christopher Tietze, “The Potential Impact of Legal Abortion on Population Growth in the United States,” in Commission on Population Growth and the American Future, Research Reports, Vol. I, Demographic and Social Aspects of Population Growth, eds. Charles F. Westoff and Robert Parke, Jr. (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1972), 581-585.
The Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1984 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1983), 68.
Julian Simon, Theory of Population and Economic Growth (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986), 64.
Tomas Frejka, “Induced Abortion and Fertility,” Family Planning Perspectives 17 (Sept./Oct., 1985): 230-34.
Ira Rosenwaike and Robert J. Melton, “Legal Abortion and Fertility in Maryland, 1960-1971,” Demography 11 (1974): 377-95; see also Frejka, “Induced Abortion” (see note 9).
Barbara Syska, Thomas W. Hilgers, and Dennis O’Hare, “An Objective Model for Estimating Criminal Abortions and Its Implications for Public Policy,” in New Perspectives on Human Abortion, eds. Thomas W. Hilgers, Dennis J. Horan, and David Mall (Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1981), 164-181.
Eugene D. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (New York: Vintage, 1976), 416.
William Petty, Political Arithmetick, or a Discourse Concerning the Extent and Value of Lands, People, Buildings, Etc. (London: Robert Clavel, 1699), 192.
Louis I. Dublin and Alfred J. Lotka, The Money Value of a Man (1930; rept. New York: Ronald, 1946).
Dublin and Lotka, The Money Value (see note 14)), 12-13.
Alfred J. Marshall, Principles of Economics, (London: MacMillan, 1890), 593.
Cited in Alfred Sauvy, General Theory of Population, trans. Christopher Campos (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969), 234.
Dublin and Lotka, The Money Value (see note 14), 73.
Burton A. Weisbord, “The Valuation of Human Capital,” The Journal of Political Economy 69 ((1961): 425-436.
Marvin G. DeVries, “The Economic Impact of 1.5 Million Additional People Per Year in the United States,” unpublished paper, 1983.
Figures for 1970-1972 from Syska, Hilgers, and O’Hare, “An Objective Model” (see note 11); figures for 1973-1999 from U. S. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2003. Figures for 2000-03 based on a projection from prior five years.


Comments:

I was trying to do a Haloscan trackback but it wouldn't accept the trackback code. Oh well.

I wrote this article in reference to the one you wrote here.

http://marchtogether.blogspot.com/2005/09/reasons-for-having-abortion.html

It takes Ms. Limberg-Child's statements to the conclusion that she avoided.

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I don't know if some are aware of this but in Ohio when a person applies for WIC, Medicaid, Foodstamps, etc. they count the unborn as a member of the family. So if you are a married couple expecting your 1st child they list your family size as 3 when determining your aid instead of 2.

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