Child support quick post (2017 numbers)

According to the latest child support numbers that dropped today from the Census, there’s been an increase in custodial parents with support agreements receiving 0% of the child support they are due to be paid.  It looks rather as if over the last few years the partial paying group shifted to not paying at all, as the full-pay numbers are more stable for the same time while the partial-pay numbers went down.

Not an optimal shift.  It fits into the broader trend of the “unreceived child support” gap increasing over the last decade as received child support declined.

Custodial fathers have more volatility in receipt of full child support compared to custodial mothers when you look back over the decades but in the last couple of years are about as likely to receive it all as custodial mothers at around 43% receiving full payment compared to 46% of custodial mothers.  Custodial fathers still have a huge “no payment” gap, and this might be affecting the broader no payment trends of recent years.

 

Tubal Ligation is cheaper than babysitters and is the American way.

Apparently it was much more common during the post-WWI (yes, first one) era than I thought, being established as a mainstream medical procedure during the Depression about a dozen years later.  Estimates are not ideal to come by and I hope to update with a chart sometime next year, but easily 1/4 and up to 1/3 of native-born white women engaged in sterilization during the “good old days where mom had 9 kids and LOVED IT”.

There was also a very high rate of condom use, including among regular Mass-attending Catholics.  There doesn’t appear to have been much overlap, so there was a very high rate of using the most reliable contraception among all but the poorest white groups.  Black women also had a fairly high rate of sterilization, but it was much less likely to be done with their explicit permission and there was younger age of first pregnancy and extremely low condom use leaving them in a situation of much higher net fertility expression.

For effectively an entire century, American women have all too frequently preferred or been subjected to technical barriers to more children rather than having lots of other women around while they had many or some system of enforcing male continence to reduce family size.  However, up until the Baby Boomer women were adults, there were still quite a lot of other women and girls around due to generational and social lag, so American women frequently had relatively smaller families than their ancestresses of the 19th and 18th centuries but a lot of informal woman-to-woman support for those smaller families until approximately the birth of Generation X in the mid-60s.  So in a way, the very women who are now absent for so many American Gen X and Millennial aged mothers had their lower-family-size cake and got to eat it too.

Importing Hispanic and Asian women in (and increasingly African ones too), who prefer lots of other women around, sometimes even paid, doesn’t appear to have altered a lot of white and black historical-American women’s beliefs that solo mom care is highest and best and that daycare or someone not-grandma (and frequently even grandma) is “letting other people raise your child”.

Thing is, even in DIY frontier culture, sometimes not-mom helped out and the fallout of emphasizing solo, mother-only childcare has been leaving millions of American mothers with center-based daycare as the only alternative instead of flexible and resilient childcare approaches and options that might provide greater antifragility in the midst of global pandemics.

 

A sample of how liberal mothers create leisure for themselves.

http://blogs.harvard.edu/philg/2018/01/29/foreigners-can-rescue-us-from-our-undiplomatic-president

This is not really a post about Trump, but about liberal mothers who hire au pairs.  Au pairs are a type of live-in childcare that costs about 20-30k a year and is considered a cultural exchange program.  In that post, a bunch of liberal mothers reveal they put a lot of energy into being shocked that outside the USA, approval of LBGT is rather lower than they expect of non-Americans (mostly young white European women).  Anyway the takeaway is that while conservative mothers at similar income levels have a long list of reasons why they can’t have any childcare, liberal mothers create the leisure and free time to sit around waiting for the very small number of au pairs who approve of LBGT*.

*The post excerpts a bunch of discussions on a web board and reveals that there are au pairs who are themselves LBG.

 

Why very low income and very high income SAHMs often treat frugality as a very part-time job

With the very low income, they have to because there’s no room for error and low enough on the income tree, it’s a real financial loss plus massive stressor to have two workers maxing out at 43k or so.

For the very high income (in W2 income terms anyhow), it’s related.  If your husband makes 400k, you get the same benefit spending 10 hours a week or even month finding an extra 25k in the budget as you would working a 50k/yr job because you only end up with a little more and you have to work 40 hours a week to get it.  You have to crack six figures yourself before the extra money is harder to find via frugality than just working a job for it.

This isn’t to say that frugality is pointless unless you only make under 40k or over 400k, but that at the extreme ends of wage income (as reflected in both extremes having the highest rates of SAHMs), it’s mostly going to be easier to conserve cash rather than earn marginally more cash.

The math is different closer to the median married income, which is partly why the median is rising.  The reason is that people who are willing to marry when both incomes are likely to be about even set up their finances differently and as a result losing one income doesn’t create the space to segue into conserving the remaining one.

Of course, another reason the median married income is rising is that if you weren’t taught household management and homemaking skills, which is a very large number of marriageable women these days, it is terrifying to figure out how to get along on a low income and marrying a higher earning man sounds like it will be safer/easier.

“A deer won’t fix it”: A few words against struggle love and romanticizing low income life.

Ripped from someone’s childhood:

It was getting towards the end of class time in Algebra I and Susanna, who’d read Little House on the Prairie to pieces, was talking to another student about how much she loved country music and how cool it was to hunt for your food even if you were poor and such.

The teacher, unusually for the free time at the end of class, cut in.  “You haven’t been poor, it’s not ‘cool’.”

“But couldn’t pa just, like, hunt deer for you all?”

“You have no idea what it’s like to really be poor. A deer won’t fix it!” The teacher didn’t have to go on.  Susanna never mentioned country music or deer hunting ever again.

The teacher was a wise woman.  A deer won’t fix the leaky roof, or serve as a winter coat.  A deer won’t fix the blisters when your shoes are worn bare and there aren’t going to be any more because your older brother ran away and you almost feel bad that your first thought was hoping he’d left his Sunday pair behind, because they weren’t too worn and only a little big on you.  A deer won’t fix it.

In one of those interesting confluences that transcends race, both the wider black community and the wider right-wing community have a tendency to romanticize poverty and “struggle love”.  That the kids coming out of many of those unions aren’t so enamored about the idea of being married and incredibly poor is waved away as them being too spoiled, somehow.

The discussion here is a good example of right-wing folks romanticizing the struggle and presenting extended periods of poverty as unalloyed good.

They were discussing, dismissively (but somewhat justifiably), this person’s wicker basket of issues around “emotional labor” that strictly speaking she doesn’t have to do and mostly isn’t labor.

Yet the problem with the emotional labor complainer lady isn’t gender, or even money.  A lot of the time, the obstacles to normal life aren’t financial, but from the vantage of those with no financial resources anyway, it can seem like “proof” that money doesn’t fix anything, so why worry about whether you have any?

A deer won’t fix the toothache.  Or the gap between your kid’s college scholarship and your empty pockets.

Poverty isn’t inherently unworthy, but there’s a difference between preparing a child for the possibility and spinning up a tale that it always works out and will in fact basically be “broke-college-student” level temporary.   It’s an ideal of struggle-life where you’re not actually lacking the roof, or the full belly, or the warm coat, or the well-fitting decent shoes.  You just have low income but all basic needs completely met.  This is pretty bitter aloes for anyone who jumps into low-income marriage on purpose without any prep and finds out it’s not very romantic or easy and that married poverty without a strong local community or regionally suitable skills to “make do” can be devastating and corrode a marriage bond to a brittle snapping point.

A deer won’t fix it.  Only frankness and realistic discussion about the tools needed to “survive and thrive” as a low income household with children could.   Not romanticism and rosy glosses on what some couple did decades or generations ago.  That leads to people seeing marriages blow up over the poverty or how bad it is for the family and mistakenly thinking that the solution is more dakka money.  But we could all make less money as married households if the sheer value of close relationships and getting along with other people were taken seriously society-wide.

 

“We have to destroy the married family to save the married family”

That is my take on this post from Audacious Epigone.  The post is a discussion of a “comment of the week” from one of his commenters.  It mostly talks about the au courant notion of a coming asset crash, almost with a sort of glee.  The same commenter makes the following remark in the comment thread for the post:

The plutocrats and the upper middle class and the government workers will be wiped out when the currency collapse wipes out the debt.

Problem for the commenter and perhaps even Mr. Epigone is that the three groups mentioned constitute the bulk of married parents of children under 18, married couples in general and a substantial minority of cohabiting/single parents of children under 18.  That is to say, such a crash will wipe out the very people having the children right now.  One can argue about whether they’re doing a good job with the kids or having a sufficiency of them (after all, I certainly spend plenty of time on such topics, lol), but at some point, the right (whether its more dissident side or its more mainstream sides who frankly share similar views about asset bubbles and crashes) needs to grasp that the “rich” or “affluent” or “upper income households” or “the government types” make up the mothers and fathers of most of our children.

The right has to stop hoping for the dissolution of 10-15 million married parent families, of a million solo/cohabiting families and of 20-30 million married couple families with no under-18s at home.  That is what would happen if these dreams of a big asset crash or currency collapse come true in the next few years.  It won’t punish your political enemies, unless now everyone who got married before having kids or at least made 75k+/yr first (cohabiting high earners and increasingly some of the high earning solo parents) is your “political enemy”.

Even many lower-earning family households are reliant on profit shares, bonuses based on company performance, and market returns on endowed funds for the nonprofits or educational institutions they are employed with.

I’m not saying no crash or collapse will happen.  It could, for all we know.  But I am saying that the right should be promoting how to cramdown debt for such households, and how to claw back bigger shares of equity and company profits for the class of people producing our future taxpayers and future at all, and who have been converted by the actual elites into a dependent wage-earning class.

In other words, the right should be acting like it understands the changes in the demographic makeup of married families, that they are mostly college educated, mostly 1 to 1.5-earner households and that the “top of the bottom” for married parents is essentially the median household income.  That is, making the median household income (63k in 2019) for married parents is around the 25-26th percentile (as of 2018) for their 22-23 million strong pool of households.

Also, as I already alluded to, many of these households do NOT have mom working full-time outside the home, and in fact much of the increase in double-income parent households has happened in the 25th-50th percentiles, while higher income households in the top half of married parents are continuing to see women exit full-time and frequently any paid employment during elementary and secondary school years.  So maybe it’s time for some new narratives.