This was inspired by a series of event, but namely this essay, Why I wish to die at 75. The author made striking notes on how we might have extended our life expectancy, but we have left our older selves disabled and less useful. Maybe it is better to be dead at 55 rather than have Alzheimers at 75 and still have 10 years more to live with the disease.
Having children in your 20s and 30s is not a smart thing to do in the 21st century. It used to be a great idea in the early 1900s and the times before then because of low life expectancy, no technology to enable childbearing past 40, and there was really nothing like a better future then. If you were born a peasant, it was most likely that your entire lineage will remain peasants.
Times have changed, but we have either not changed the way we perceive the world or we are ignorant and stupid in many cases. For one thing, we have science that allows someone else carry our babies and we are able to store our sperms and eggs outside the human body indefinitely.
There are more than enough reasons why it is a bad idea to have children in your 20s. Some of which are:
1. You just came into adulthood and you have not gained enough experience to have a perspective on how the world works. You have hardly figured out what you want to do with your life nor have you given yourself enough time to try and see if what you want to do is worth doing.
In the times before the 1900s, life expectancy was low, and by 16 it was clear you were going to do subsistence farming and die in a war. The world we live in is different, a world where children are forced to make career decisions by 16 to be doctors or engineers. They cannot be making these decisions until they have experienced the world hence why many people do things that are often different from what they studied in school. After you have figured out what you want to do by your early to late 20s, you still need time to see if it is worth doing.
2. Children take away time and attention from living your best life. Research shows adult without children are much happier than adults with children, especially in capitalist economies.
There is an associated and unspoken opportunity cost of having children. Often, mum’s quit their careers to focus on their child and dad’s often have to lose out on opportunities to make money to spend time with their child. This seems like a massive and inefficient waste of time and human potential. Many people advocate to see more women in the workforce, maybe the answer is to delay having children until your 40s/50s.
It is important to note that getting married does not mean having children. I advocate that people get married early because you need a partner to support you, especially after your parents die, you save better, and you become responsible and accountable to someone else.
3. They are a big expense. Imagine you saved and invested all the money you invested in having children early on, you would be far better off by the time you are ready to have children because you would have accumulated wealth through compounding.
You could have some sort of financial stability in your 20s and 30s that make it possible for you to afford a child, but it is not enough because as you earn more, you upgrade your lifestyle and the lifestyle of your children. Unless you are super rich (>$100M in wealth), the opportunity cost of having children makes you lose wealth in your younger years because you miss out on compounding.
Do not believe in the power of compounding? Just ask Charlie Munger why he is $80B less rich than Warren Buffet, his investment partner.
Assuming zero inflation, and it costs $5,000 per annum to take care of a child. At 3 children per family, each of them spending 22 years with their parents before they move out, a parent would have spent $15,000 * 22 years = $330,000
If that money was invested over 22 years in a low-risk portfolio returning 10% per annum, the parents would have $1,325,000 in cash.
If it was invested for 30 years, they would have $3,123,000.
That looks like more than enough money to raise children and give the child many privileges they might not have been able to give if they had children earlier.
4. Older parents tend to be better parents than younger parents mostly because they have lived as an adult long enough to bring up good children in a treacherous world and they know what it means to empathize and be kind.
If your argument is that older parents do not have the energy to chase after their kids, remember that older parents are richer and can afford helpers, babysitters, or governors to run after their children. Rich young parents do not run after their children either, they pay people to do that.
5. Being a young parent brings massive constraint to your finances and to your child’s developmental growth and view of the world in ways your young child is unable to understand. E.g: Your inability to afford an excursion for your teenager.
6. Having “children you want” is a selfish desire no matter the age, but as humans, we often see things in the short term instead of optimizing for the long term. As you grow older (nearing 50), you often have more free time especially when you are retired. This is a lot of time that you can dedicate towards bringing up a good child and you can transfer all your wisdom into them as they enter their teen years.
The joy in parenting is in investing your best to bring up a human to be good and older parents have the best to give (wealth, knowledge, and care).
7. Lastly, having a world with only older parents is the way to end world poverty. Older people tend to be more realistic and less delusional about the future. If you are unfortunate and have wasted your years and finances, you will have less reasons to have a child because you cannot afford one. Older parents that can afford a child are able to pass on more wealth to their children because they compounded a lot of wealth in their young adult years.
Over 2 – 3 generations of shifting to only older parents in the world, we will eliminate world poverty.
TL:DR: Older parents have a lot more financial stability because they were able to compound their wealth while their peers lost the impact of compounding on their children. Older parents have also experienced the world and can help their child navigate it while giving them the most insightful lessons to follow. And as life expectancy goes up and your mind and body gets frail you want to be surrounded by people that love you, especially your children who will be entering adulthood as you near death.
From my observation of the world, the right age to have children is from your mid-40s to your 60s. You will live a happier life this way.
And there is research to prove this – older parents are better parents.
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