Discussions of some basic principles
What are "lost opportunity costs"?
A parent who stays at home to look after the children as they are brought up is likely to suffer various financial set-backs and ongoing disadvantages for the rest of that person's life. These include:
These result in "lost opportunity costs" - the differences between what that person could have earned throughout the lifetime and what is actually earned as a result of bringing up the children. 
Can child support replace lost opportunity costs?
It is impossible to solve the issues of lost opportunity costs via child support. IMPOSSIBLE!
However tempting it may be to try to fit lost opportunity costs into the basis for the child support amounts, it is totally out of order to do so. Lost opportunity costs need to be considered totally independently. They must not contaminate discussions about child support.
So what should replace lost opportunity costs?
We need to understand what has caused the lost opportunity costs so that we can "assign blame", or find who or what should pay. We mustn't put the responsibility onto someone who did not play a part. So why did the person concerned have children and spend the resources (time, money, etc) to support them? Here are some hypothetical views:
Perhaps a bit like cancer. So, ideally, it should have been cut out of the body at the earliest opportunity, and flushed down the toilet. (But consider - is having babies & bringing up children like having cancer?)
Did society tell you this? If not, why did you believe it? If society needs you to have babies, then society will either conscript you to have babies, or will pay you sufficient for you to be a professional baby-carrier. Until then, don't make assumptions about what society wants you to do. Society can find plenty of highly skilled & motivated people from around the world who would like to work in the UK's environment and make themselves, & the UK, lots of money. (Anyway, why simply do what society "wants" you to do? It isn't a legal requirement!)
Was it? Point to the evidence! (Perhaps for much of the 20th Century this was the indeed the case. But it is now the 21st Century, and this is certainly not the case!)
Ah! you mean you really, really, wanted to! Now you are being honest! What is it that people really want to do, even though it takes lots of their time, and their money, and leads to frustration, but eventually may well lead to lots of satisfaction? Ah ...!
Having babies is a hobby. Staying at home to bring them up is taking that hobby further, to the extent where it impacts on lost opportunity costs. So lost opportunity costs are really the voluntarily-incurred costs of pursuing a hobby. In answer to the heading above - why should anything replace lost opportunity costs? Who pays for people to breed & ride horses? Who pays for people to travel the world & photograph it? The person concerned! And if it becomes an 18 year task, the costs to that person will be proportionate.
OK - then sort it out with your husband! It is a matter for consenting adults in private - don't get others, such as taxpayers, involved.
The jury is still out - the results are not clear, and simply indicate trends, not fixed paths. But the research that suggests this only applies until the children get to school. From about 5 onwards, research says that it is best for the children if the parents work.
Poppycock! The most generous "benefits" provided by the current government are intended to get parents (and disabled people) back to work! (Working Families Tax Credit, etc). Increasingly, the focus of future governments will be to get parents back to work once their youngest child has gone to school.
What to do?
Make it crystal clear to all adults that lost opportunities will not LATER be recoverable (at least in total) from the one that didn't take the career break - unless they come to a formal agreement, of course!
Enable lost opportunities to be minimised during a career break by better pension rules, life-long-learning, part time jobs etc.
Then people who don't like these consequences can simply not have children!
We aren't talking about everyone - we are talking about you, Mr and Mrs Typical of A House in Some Road in Your Town. Your decision to have a baby makes a difference of one baby in the world - if you choose not to have one, it won't cause the population to collapse!
From: "If men have all the power, how come women
make the rules?"
The Tale of Mrs Typical
The way I look at it, if the kids are still alive when my husband comes home from work, then I've done my job.
|Page last updated: 5 July, 2004||© Copyright Barry Pearson 2003|