"In nations in the West, an important limiting factor is the ability to get one’s own apartment. That is, the ratio of average male wage to average rent. In the USA, the happiest year for this ratio was 1958, when people were spending 22% of their income on rent, on average. Not by coincidence, this was the peak year of the Baby Boom. In some sense, it was the best year in history to be a young white male in the USA. It was the year when it was easiest for an 18 year old male to get out of high school, get their own apartment, marry their high school sweetheart, and start a family. And of course, young people did this in huge numbers, which is why 1958 remains the peak year for teenage pregnancy in the USA."
1958 is when men had the best wage to rent ratio, and that helped create families and have children. And likewise, nowadays, as rents increase faster than wages, we should expect the birth rate to decline.
All else being equal, I would gladly earn $1 million per year and spend 75% of it on rent, because that remaining 25% would be a heck of a lot of money.
I doubt this metric would significantly change the conclusions of this article, but I’d like to see that metric used.
Ah, so you want to live in San Francisco
If you go to NYC or SF and make 400k/year after tax, who cares if housing costs you 300k out of that. Especially if you're buying, in which case you can get part of your money back once you sell.
A lot of that work could be moved to cheaper interior parts of the country.
I'll worry about that in 10 years if that happens. Plenty of time.
But if rental yields are low (as they are now) and you do not expect house prices to rise at a fast rate in the future, renting can easily be the smart choice.
Regarding future house price increases. It seems to me that house prices can be approximated as a function of rents, interest rates (determining required return on owning a house), and anticipated growth in house prices (which again can be decomposed into growth in rents, reduction in interest rates and 'irrational' growth).
Using London as an example. Rental yields appear to be around 3.5% in London at the moment, which suggests to me that a good deal of anticipated growth is priced in. But where can that growth come from? Rents are a function of incomes and are unlikely to outpace inflation. Interest rates seem to be more likely to go up than down. So it seems that house prices are unlikely to rise, and once that is realized by the market, prices may even come down as participants stop anticipating growth just because "London house prices always go up".
House prices going up faster than rents in recent decades can probably be explained by interest rates being in a downward trend over the same decades. Now we seem to be in at least somewhat of a bubble due to irrational future growth expectations.
Its a smart choice in other situations too - like when you are intending to live somewhere on a temporary basis, for example. You would certainly be better off (again, financially!!) if you were renting a room for a couple hundred bucks a month if that allowed you to sock away $2,000 a month into your retirement funds. That's provided you have the ability to actually save/invest the extra money you have, a mortgage can act like a forced savings account for some people.
Anyway, when you're talking about buying vs renting you're also heavily involving non-financial factors that are usually MUCH more important than financial factors (assuming you have some sort of a budget); so something might be a "smart choice" for an individual but not the most financially optimal one. Just like eating lentils and ramen noodles every day might be the most financially optimal choice but is probably not a "smart choice" for most people. In fact, if you have a family you probably aren't going to make the most financially optimal housing choice unless you absolutely have to.
A real world example:
I have friends who are renting a decent single family house with tons of land for an absurdly low price (family price!) and the landlord (family member) even pays utilities because it's just "easier" and she isn't trying to make a profit. Factoring in depreciation and amortized repair/upkeep costs the landlord is almost certainly subsidizing their housing costs. Financially, great deal! They will almost certainly never have a chance to have a full house that cheap ever again. Staying there as long as the landlord lets them is the most financially optimal choice. However, for a number of complicated (but understandable) reasons, my friends hate it and are planning to move whenever they have saved up more and paid down their loan balances.
tl;dr: It's not always the smart choice to buy. Or to rent.
- Being with your kids, spouse or helping them out to school or work
- Working out
- Doing anything that requires undisturbed attention
As for the other three, I guess I could say that I'm not sure it's realistic to try and budget your time so efficiently that a 30-45 minute commute is intolerable. Many people have commutes for which that's a margin of error on how long it will take them - that sounds like a real problem.
Aside from working from home full time, what kind of commute are you looking to have, and at what distance from work? It's not realistic for most people to achieve a 15 minute commute, so 30-45 in a train really isn't that bad. If it really matters then you could do things on the train that would normally keep you from your spouse or kids at home :)
On the way home she will sometimes watch a movie and finish it at home. Time on the train does not have to be work or a vegetable.
The idea here is many people want a house and if you aren't DINKs then Oshawa was cheaper in housing a while ago. Now it's almost similar to Toronto cost and rent is nearing.
How much is 2x5x52 = 520 hours worth to you?
If you’re selling your time for even just $100/hour that’s $52,000/year right there. With a 300k salary your hour is worth way more than $100. For your family, it’s priceless.
I always read many more books when I commuted than when I didn’t commute. I find myself making new year’s resolutions to read more. But it was easy when I had the commute as a forcing function. (Not having internet on the subway probably helped...)
(I audiobook when running so I’m no better)
Admittedly this doesn't say great things about my attention span...
If it takes an extra hour a day and $500 a month that's $3000 to save a month in housing costs
I live across the street from the office and yes the rent is stupid, but my commute is a 5 minute walk.
And rent is still stupid in a 30min radius (for a total of 1h/day). You really have to go 1h+ radius to make a significant dent in rent around here (SF).
I have a 5 second commute from the bedroom to the office (3 minutes if I go downstairs and boil the kettle first), far easier. Monthly Mortgage is less than the weekly rent that one colleague pays in London, and he still has a 45 minute commute each way.
The only real thing to gain in this case is convenience.
Right now though, my 401k has been doing 15-18% for the last couple of years. My condo has been going up in value by about 13%/year, but I put 20% down and I think I'm at 30-35% equity, and my monthlies are cheaper than an equivalent rental.
The rent + invest vs buy + bank on property value debate is age old, and I won't restart it here, but so far, I'm not doing terrible.
Fire/police/teacher/plumbers are very well paid.
Cleaning is hit and miss, specialty cleaning is borderline extortion.
Still, I know that most cleaning people get paid min 15$/hr.
At 15$/hr, 30k/yr is plenty to live.
Yeah, it's the ratio of population to number of housing units.
Every year the Globe runs a story on Massachusetts losing its young and poor population to the Sun Belt, but if you bring up building more apartment buildings, people yell that you should Go Back Where You Come From.
IMO, the winning strategy is to be weird.
But of course you’re right, everything else being equal I would also be happy to earn $1bn and spend 99% on rent.
I think the point GP is trying to make, is that it matters more if you can afford in absolute dollars to have a family on whatever is left when you're done paying rent, not what the percentage is.
Or more basically you need a significant surplus to be able to afford kids.
Some people might spend 75% of their income on massive dwellings, but most people downsize if possible before going past 55% of income. And as we are talking about things on the social not individual level those preferences matter.
In other words, it's ignoring the fact that houses come in many sizes. Anyone spending 75% of income on housing has an enormous incentive to choose a slightly smaller apartment. And is completely unable to contemplate expanding slightly. What if you want two kids... and the second one turns out to be twins? Can their grandmother come to stay for the summer & help out?
If you're spending 20% of income on housing, then you have a lot more room to solve these problems. (And, as others pointed out, to get a different job which pays slightly less, etc.)
> The average American house size has more than doubled since the 1950s; it now stands at 2,349 square feet.
> Back in the 1950s and '60s, people thought it was normal for a family to have one bathroom, or for two or three growing boys to share a bedroom. Well-off people summered in tiny beach cottages on Cape Cod or off the coast of California
But families always have more need of space than the childless. This makes anyone contemplating children very sensitive to questions like "how much of my present after-rent income must I give up for another 100 sq ft?". And this will be very different for the guy who's found himself spending 75% (to be near google, or whatever) and the guy spending 20% (in 1958).
And even goods' prices will reflect the high rent costs, given that stocking & sale of good requires employment of local workers, and purchase/rental of local commercial space.
 even the automated, self-service stores require certain amount of human work as of now.
No, you wouldn’t. As income goes higher, long-distance transportation becomes (a) more comfortable and (b) smaller as a fraction of income. De-camping to Washington State and commuting to San Francisco doesn’t make sense at $200,000; it does at $1 or 2 million.
I'm not sure what transportation has to do with this. Someone could increase their commute time to reduce rent, but that's the case regardless of income.
For the average person, flying to work every day is unrealistic. If you are making $1M/year, it suddenly becomes very realistic. Same day roundtrips between SFO and Seattle via coach are about $200 when purchased 3 months out. Times 200 workdays/year, that's only $40K/year. You end up way ahead financially buying in Seattle and commuting by plane to your job in SF, if you're willing to stomach the ~6 hours/day of commuting time.
Then if you don't want to spend an hour and a half in the terminal, you can fly private jet. Private jet time apparently runs about $5k/hour. At ~600 hours/year, you're looking at about 3 million a year to commute by private jet from Seattle to SFO. Still out of your price range at a million in salary, but quite doable if you were making say $10m, and your commute time isn't much worse than sitting in traffic on 101 between Google and the Marina.
Replace Seattle with Las Vegas and all 3 of (housing, flight time, expense) get better. Round-trip to Vegas is about an hour and a half; coach prices go as low as $59 and private jet prices would be about $1-1.5M/year; and houses can be had for $200K, freeing up lots of money for flying.
Consider what happens if you lose that job. How much money do you need saved up to live the next 6 months in both scenarios?
If I pay $750K/yr, I need $325K saved up to pay rent for 6 months. That will take me 1.3 years of saving to get to that threshold (assuming I pay for nothing else - food, etc).
If I pay $50K/yr, I need $25K saved up to pay rent for 6 months. It will take me 4 months.
Depending on how long you live, etc, I suppose there is a point where the former is better. But not in the short term.
That's assuming you're paying mortgage and not rent. What if this is pure rent?
Then you have to pay that much even in retirement. That means you have to save up a lot more in the first scenario before you can retire, and may have to work longer, despite the higher pay, and the higher savings.
Of course, you can always retire in a cheaper place, but that's a matter of preference. I would rather retire in the place I lived much of my life in - not in some strange city.
The point remains, in the first scenario the person has $250,000 worth of disposable income. In the latter it's only $150,00. The former is in a much better position to build up saving. Heck, even one year's worth of post-rent income in savings is enough to spend as much money as the average American annual income (~35k) for the next 7 years.
> Then you have to pay that much even in retirement. That means you have to save up a lot more in the first scenario before you can retire, and may have to work longer, despite the higher pay, and the higher savings. Of course, you can always retire in a cheaper place, but that's a matter of preference. I would rather retire in the place I lived much of my life in - not in some strange city.
Sure, but now you're talking about a drastically different scenario if the resident has concluded they will live the rest of their life in their apartment. In that scenario, optimizing for post-employment living is a more important factor. But until unless you've decided to retire in your current apartment, the first choice is strictly better.
>Compared to, say, someone making $200,00 post tax and spending only 25% of that on rent it is strictly better.
Essentially, I claimed that Scenario X is better than scenario Y, but now you're saying "but! What if scenario X suddenly becomes scenario Z?".
I can say with absolute certainty that I'd be pretty damn happy with $250k post-rent income.
(vs the contentment with remainder)
Of course, if your employer is flexible, it can cost far less.
The hell I would too.
The locals hate it when you do this because you screw with their low CoL so please don't shove it in their face by being politically active as well.
But all this is wrong because rents rise to soak up income. If we all earned $1MM rents would be most of that if all other goods stayed the same.
This had the end result that those who want to stay at home can't, society is now based arround two decent income salaries.
If shelter is cheap, skimping there won't be worth it.
However I don't believe in minus housing cost, as everything is relative. We should simply have housing cost / wages shown at different distribution level. Median, 60% and 80%, etc.
Although I am glad the world has finally caught up to the housing prices problem. Hong Kong people has been crying about it for decades.
Not everyone wants to move to Ohio to retire.
It makes sense, but that doesn't make it true. Is your argument based on your personal beliefs, or is it based on actual outcomes in the economy?
As someone once pointed out, if 'makes sense' was a reliable indicator of the truth, we would have had accurate physics in 5,000 BC.
Seems to me it's based on basic arithmetic. Are you arguing that $250,000/year isn't a very comfortable take-home wage?
In practice, a large percentage of the population are getting screwed because a.) their parents lost their home in the foreclosure crisis, the bank repossessed it, and it got sold to a private investor b.) their parents had inadequate savings and needed to take out a reverse mortgage, and most of the home equity goes to the bank by the time they die c.) their parents got divorced and their evil stepmother got the house or d.) their parents live in one of the many regions where housing prices are stagnant or declining but the kids need to live in an expensive region to have a job.
For an average person it is not reasonable to expect to inherit a property during age of settling down when that is most needed.
Your comment about timing is right-on though: most couples are expected to have the house & kid before the grandparents die.
The average male wage? Most couples are double-income these days, surely?
I don't think it is necessarily the current state, but our view of future prospects that may matter more. I wonder if there are yearly studies of people's outlook on employment prospects/etc broken down by age. Having children is a future oriented endeavor. Your current situation absolutely matters, but I think your outlook on future prospects is the driving factor. I suspect it is so for women too. If you think your purchasing power, ability to own a home, etc in the future is diminishing, it would affect both the male and female positions on whether to have or the number of kids to raise.
There are plenty more factors impacting teenage pregnancy than the cost of rent. I also hesitate to talk about teenage pregnancy rates in any sort of positive light. There is a very fine line between a 18yo married to her "high school sweetheart" who has a great job, and an unwed 17yo highschool senior who, in 1958 society, had a very rough time. I'd suggest that the later was the more common.
I doubt that was the case. According to the CDC, less than 15% of teenage births were to unmarried teenagers in the 1950s. In 1960, the birth rate for teenagers aged 15-17 was a quarter that of teenagers aged 18-19.
>> less than 15% of teenage births were to unmarried teenagers in the 1950s.
And exactly how many of those occurred less than 9 months after the wedding? Being pregnant and unmarried in 1958, even temporarily, was not a happy place from which to start adult life.
People survived just fine. Life isn't all rainbows and unicorns. Raising a kid as a young couple who are only together for the kid probably sucked a lot less in 1958 because there was a heck of a lot less economic pressure (and bad finances make everything else worse).
severely naive and rose tinted.
A couple that is dealing with a kid that was born when they were 16-19 is far less of a burden in 1958 than in 2018 assuming because how society expects them to handle it then vs now and how much of a burden we consider it then vs now.
In 1958 the expectation was that you get married, settle down, raise the kid and pretend to be a normal couple who aren't just together for the kid. Even if you don't really love each other you at least get to raise your kid together and manage your time and money like a normal couple. This is ball and chain to both parents and certainly not ideal but it's a lot easier to do when that's what society expects you to do. Yes, you're settling, yes, you're stuck with someone you probably don't love anymore but that sucks a hell of a lot less when it's something that you're expected to do with some level of success.
In 2018 the expectation is that the couple splits. Raising the kid while apart is a massive handicap on both parents. They're expected to still manage to have careers (which probably involve college), find new partners and generally pursue life like everyone else. With a kid to raise these things are much more difficult and complicated. Even if you make the generous assumption that parents with shared custody cooperate with each other in order to raise the kid the overhead cost (time, money, frustration, pick any metric you want) of separated parents trying to coordinate to raise a kid is much larger than a couple working together. If one parent is completely out of the picture or the couple has shard custody but doesn't want to work together then it's still a bigger drain on both (money for one parent and not getting to raise your kid, everything else for the other). Neither case does the kid any favors.
Basically in 2018 we expect couples who have a kid in high-school to do it the harder way and society's expectation that they do it the hard way makes it even harder on any couple that tries to raise the kid together (contradicting social norms is hard to do because basically nobody around you will support you).
Economics aside, raising a kid with your high-school sweetheart that you no longer love is ball and chain on both parents but it's a smaller one if the kid is born in 1958 than in 2018 because per 1958 norms you're expected to get married and tough it out. Per 1958 norms having a kid in high-school not seen as the end of the world, it's seen as something unfortunate that happens to a non-negligible fraction of people and that people are expected to be able to deal with somewhat successfully.
Sure, you can hair split about the economics of raising kid, opportunities for women to have careers, quantify how bad it is to be married to someone you don't love vs having shared custody vs writing a check every month. The end result of all the hair splitting will just reflect the opinions and cultural norms of whoever doing the splitting.
I'm saying that even if you ignore all that having a kid sucks less in 1958 because how much it actually sucks is determined in mostly part based on how much we think it should suck which is basically determined by the society we live in and in 1958 we didn't think having a kid at 18 sucked that bad as we think it does in 2018 so therefore it sucked less for the people who had to do it in 1958.
edit: it should go without saying that this assumes parent quality is competent across time. Of course you could make either situation look like the obvious winner but comparing good parents to deadbeats.
My wife and I live in an expensive city. It's pretty fun.
Except, we just had a child. She's pretty fun too. In fact, we think we might like another.
She makes all the fun stuff in the city irrelevant (not heading to the bars these days), and the bad stuff in the city pretty horrible.
* She's inhaling poison every morning I walk her to creche.
* If I let her ride a bike on our street she will die.
So, thinking to ourselves "this is crap" we decided "let's have dad get a remote job and buy a cheap place in the country". She hates her job anyway.
Lo and behold, a few days after we said "all right, that's it, we're doing it" she gets two interviews for jobs she'd really like, in her sector (museums and heritage) - In the city (around the corner, in fact).
So, if she gets the job we're staying in the city and not having another kid. If she doesn't we're moving to the country and probably having another kid.
In all this, you'll notice I never said "we could find a place with more room within a reasonable distance from her potential new job" - because it's not really an option. They're quite expensive, and on top of that, banks here (not the US) make it quite challenging to get a mortgage. We've managed to save a reasonable deposit (if we could get a mortgage) but can't quite buy a place in the city for cash. We could get a place in the country for cash, though.
Then again, individual action is utterly meaningless. With ~8billion people it just doesn't matter what I do. Only large-scale action that brings about systemic changes matters. And hey, maybe one of my kids will be the one to help fix it!
Then again, if people viewed 2 as a nominal max then we'd still be on the right path (a bit below replacement rate would be OK generally speaking)
But I already brought one life in to the world when I worry about global collapse and am not sure I want to do that for another.
But siblings are pretty great!
But if I have an only child I can afford a better school for them..
Anyway, still thinking. So is the partner.
Also, "fuck the job" is easy to say except it's not my job, it's the opportunity for my partner to do the thing she's wanted to do her whole life and has worked her ass off for. It's crazy hard to actually build a career in museums and heritage (related... https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16792942) and maybe she shouldn't have to give that up.
Then again, being in an industry where employment is that tenuous sounds like a crappy way to spend life.
I hear you about the career thing. I have sacrificed immensely to be able to afford a family. But now, when I am surrounded by my children, I think about all of the possibilities that lay ahead of them, all the grand adventures they will have and the adversities they will overcome, and I remark to myself, "I made all of this possible".
This couldn't be more wrong. Every new life is another body consuming resources.
> All species expand to fill their ecological niche.
This doesn't apply to humans. Unlike other animals, we've mastered agriculture and can produce our own food. But there are still non-renewable resources that we're constantly consuming and will eventually run out of, but we'll continue to reproduce.
> If you abstain from having children, their spots will just be taken up by other people's children.
This implies the inverse, that if I choose to have children, someone else will react by choosing not to. If I choose not to, that won't cause someone else to have more to "take up my spot". There will still be fewer children.
> We are powerless to influence the number of people
On an individual scale, yes. My choice to not have children has no significant impact on the population. But lots of people choosing to not have children does. Your argument is similar to the one made by people who don't vote because they think their one vote won't change the outcome of the election.
> but we can influence the proportion of people who have an environmentalist bent.
This part is at least true.
So after you decide not to have children, other people will have children. Eventually, their descendents will take up the space in the earth's carrying capacity that your descendants would have taken up. There is nothing you can do to stop this. So the best strategy is to change the proportion of people who have an environmentalist bent. Children are an effective way to accomplish that.
In addition to worrying about the carbon footprint of another kid, I have a much bigger concern that
* We will do nothing regarding climate change (seems likely)
* The predictions for Business as Usual will have been too conservative (seems likely given that the Arctic is melting well ahead of schedule, and who knows how clathrates pan out)
* Temps rise by a good 8C or so in the next 8 decades
* My child, or their children, will die horribly in a new global Holodomor as our resource chains (webs, really) collapse and the world's civilizations implode.
Anyway, I already had one. But I have a deep, pervasive dread that I have doomed them to the above. However, I also might be wrong! Maybe it just gets a bit warmer and they can open a nice winery in Sweden and it's all fine.
Given how much the West flirts with the replacement rate, I think you should do whatever you feel like doing.
I dont know if I'll have the time to give kids my full attention.
I found my brother was/is the reason I'm a nerd. Sure my dad was a database manager, but I spend hours daily with my brother gaming. I dont even think I wanted to spend a half hour with my 'boring' dad.
When you frame things that way, the answer for parents who are considering another child is pretty much always to give the child the gift of life. In the developed world, at least.
Probably they'll tell you where you can stick your notions.
I suppose we may differ on this but I don't really view that as a negative. I don't think there's a pool of "potential people" from which we draw when making a new person. An infinite number of beings don't exist, and won't. I actually would love to see more work on the nature of consciousness and the self, and what exactly gives a new foetus or baby its awareness of the fact that it exists.
And yet I'm not entirely consistent internally because even though "I want someone to hang out with when I'm old" is part of the reason kids sound fun, most of it is "bringing a new being capable of experience joy into the universe", so I guess I sort of agree, in a roundabout sense.
Eh, if anyone should have kids, it should be the financially well off and educated people.
Remember that your logic isnt going to stop impoverished people from having 4 kids and welfare.
Then there are siblings who are a literal burden on their families. Some people just use others and walk all over everyone. Someone in my extended family tried to burglarize the home of someone else in the family. That’s not someone I want in my family.
And it goes both ways: I would do the same for them.
Just had this with my brother. He's got a fairly expensive illness. I asked if he needed help. It never even occurred to him to ask - he's pretty independent. But if he has to have help, I'll try to help.
I'm reminded of how few heads of EU states are parents
Basically, two incomes are useful, so both people in a relationship pursue careers. Now they have more money to compete on the housing market. This seems like a good move, so others follow suit. At first this is largely a win for people who pursue this route. But, as more people do this, it becomes necessary in order to compete for real estate in good neighborhoods.
Now there is an advantage to be had by putting off having a family even longer, or having even less children. So people do this. But as more and more people follow suit, the advantage evaporates. And so on and so forth until you have demographic implosion.
For the life of me, I can’t see a way out of this in the short term. Maybe a wholesale transition to remote work?
If there are less people, then pressure for good neighborhoods goes down, and we'll reach an equilibrium. I think it only seems like a ratchet because we're in the middle of a downturn after a 5000 year run of exponential growth.
Doesn't mean it doesn't suck to live in this time in terms of housing -- but in other terms, life is pretty outstanding. The two income thing is mostly new, but then compare the amount of time that medieval women spent on childcare and providing clothing. It's so much better now that they're not expected to spend every spare moment at the spinning wheel.
Given the vast differences in climate impact between different populations and consumption habits, this doesn't seem to be the case.
Perhaps a better way of phrasing it would be "We're above the carrying capacity of Earth for Rich Americans".
As well, what makes you think we will reach an equilibrium for good neighborhoods? Some housing will be abandoned, causing blight; blight causes good neighborhoods to become less desirable, and they spiral down from there.
Detroit is a great example of what happens when neighborhoods lose people.
I was mainly talking about the SF case, where lower global population should make it more affordable rather than causing things to be abandoned. This is what is playing out in Tokyo, which is still growing while the countryside is abandoned. As for the small towns, it sucks, but dying small towns has been a thing for quite a while now as agriculture has become more mechanized. Detroit's kind of the odd man out being a depopulating metropolis, so I'd actually argue that it's a terrible example, at least for the next 100 years.
The impact of global population on SF is and will be negligible.
There are 500$/mo rents everywhere and food costs are the lowest in history.
If you dont care to keep up with the Joneses and have minimum wage people cook you food, you can easily live off 1 low-income salary.
The cheapest I see is $625, which is 25% more than $500/month.
If families have at most 1 earner, then the worse case scenario is to have 0 earners, being one down. If most families have 2 though, when you fall to 0, you're much, much worse off compared to the norm.
People with kids vs people without. People with college degrees in high demand profession vs people without. Basically, every time we push people in drove toward a more efficient "lifestyle", the worse off people who don't are.
In case of food, it comes to your nearest super market. So its not just overproduction of food, its also supply chain optimization.
Obligatory link going deep into this: http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/.
If the graphs were plotted with increase in population against the change in fertility then those places would be outliers.
Texas zoning and tax on houses work.
The funny thing about housing prices is that a state in the US has handled house prices so well with an economy that is doing well but Texas is often ignored in these discussions.
Also, negative externalities of Texas' built environment (lung disease, cancer, potentially more autism near motorways(still early stages of research) dead people on roads, inability to travel or perform basic tasks for those who can't or prefer not to drive, being impoverished by your automobile, and the potential collapse of global civilization due to climate change) are not priced in, so often the neighbors or the rest of the world are paying for those houses.
Texas zoning also paved over all the marsh land that would've kept the city from flooding.
I've theory-crafted other potential policies like "require any increase in office build density to be matched by increased residential density". That seems more potentially game-able than simply increasing density of properties the market had determined are valuable.
The real underlying cause in the drop in birth rates is an increase in working hours, an increase in commuting times, an increase in college tuition and health care costs, and also an increase in divorce rates.
These days, even getting married is an expensive financial arrangement. Having kids is just another layer on that.
Housing prices have increased because of cheap loans and supply-restrictive regulations.
I am not precisely sure if they have less working hours. I mean, anecdotally, I don't know any Danes who have 10 minute commutes working 4 days a week, 6 hours a day or something like that, and making $7,000 post tax per month. Like, that sounds mythical in America and in Denmark.
I would just equate Denmark's birthrate either to cultural differences (white birth rates are lower than arab, latino, african etc), or to the same pressures that American workers have-- the Danish pressures are just slightly less extreme.
By most metrics, Denmark has one of the largest degrees of social mobility in the world. The US usually comes out worst or second-worst in the developed world (the UK is gaining on it lately).
in the USA we just have 100 million people that are literally in debt up to their eyeballs and die horrible unhealthy deaths every year.
im not saying this system is justified, im saying it skews our statistics. the US is like south africa-- a deliberately created class distinction between the rich and the poor which heavily skews along racial lines, but not always.
Well, at least we're openly admitting the US is a caste society by design now.
However, when you control for this group of people (aka remove them from being counted), the US middle class is basically the same as the Danish middle class, in terms of mobility, income, life expectancy and so on.
As an anecdote, almost everyone I know moves to a less expensive area and buys a larger house when they start a family. Live downtown, have babies, move to the 'burbs. My parents did it, and I will probably do it too.
This type of situation muddies the data because we are contributing the trend but the housing price isn't changing whether we have babies. It only changes where we have babies.
It's unclear whether the data shows that housing prices affect the brith rate or whether people just move to cheaper neighbourhoods when they want to have babies.
In my family it seems that each generation is having less and less kids. My great grandparents had a 7-10, my grandparents had 5, my parents had 2, I had 1.
I think the world has enough people, so for me one kid was plenty.
I even see higher divorce rates as a positive thing in some ways. 50 years ago it may not have been a valid choice for a woman to leave an abusive husband and set up on her own. Now they have a lot more choice in that regard.
My point was more along the lines of criticizing 'correlation vs. cause' and providing equally weak arguments.
What I believe is that there are multiple factors at work here. So higher home prices are probably one reason why people are deciding against children, but most certainly not the only one. And 'deciding against children' doesn't mean they will never have any children, maybe they just wait a few more years before they get the first and in the end there will be one less for some couples.
The main cost of getting married is getting divorced. Legal fees add up a lot here, and the division of assets is costly.
Now, you could argue your marriage won't end in divorce, but 60% of marriages in the US do.
60% of marriages end in divorce, but most people who marry do not get divorced from their first marriage. The 60% number is bumped out due to the segment of the population that get married 3 or 4 times.
Anecdotally, I know a lot of people who are either divorced in their 30s, or still unmarried in their 30s. Considering the difficulties a woman has conceiving beyond their mid 30s, I think the explanation is here in our faces.
My grandma had 5 kids and was married at 19.
Funny that you've mentioned correlation and no causation, and then brought this up. How old was your grandma when she had her first kid?
We were going to use the church hall for the reception, but my parents wanted us to get another reception venue. That would have been free. A traditional cake and punch reception with some music would have set us back maybe $300, but even that could have been foregone. My wife's parents didn't do any of that. Just got married the old-fashioned way.
Much more plausible to me is the association to women's education, causing women to delay their first pregnancy and opt out of further children. Also there seems to be an association between general misery or fatality and birth rates.
It is not really a happy life if you have to spend your evenings in utter silence because there is a baby or a toddler sleeping in the same room two meters away.
I believe that irrational factors are easily overlooked but predominant. There is a certain biological drive to raise children, stronger in some people compared to others. And various factors modulate this drive, again unconsciously.
Most of the time, in free societies at least, it is the woman who makes most of the decision. If she really wants to have a child, nothing and nobody can stop her, short of a reproductive problem.