Save. Spend. Splurge.

Should only the rich be allowed to have children?

An interesting question for discussion came up the other day about children and who should have them.

My title is a bit controversial but what it came down to, was the idea that if people are unable to support themselves with a living wage (meaning they’re on welfare), should they be allowed to have children (and therefore new mouths to feed) that they will also not be able to support?

In essence, these children they are having would be supported by society and not by their parents, as they would be on welfare and receiving money for these kids.

So this begged the question: Should anyone be allowed to have children if they are unable to support them?

For me, the answer is no, but not a cut & dry “no”.

On the one hand, I really believe that if you have children, you are having them because you can afford to support them and be independent of society to do so.

On the other hand, if you for whatever circumstance, are not able to support yourself, after having Baby Bun, I can’t imagine ever telling anyone that they shouldn’t be allowed to have children just because of money.

Having Baby Bun has been the best and the worst experience of my life. The good outweighs the bad, but it is not an experience that I could have ever replicated without having a child.

…so where do you draw the line for this? On a case-by-case exceptional basis?

It is one thing to say that you don’t have money to have children, but it is another entirely to say you truly cannot support yourself and want children anyway.

A co-worker brought up an interesting point about how some people actually milk the system by having MORE children just to get these special benefit payments to support them, and it’s kind of how some of them create an income of sorts to live, without thinking about whether or not their kids would then be possible future dependents upon the teats of society’s goodwill and be ALSO unable to support themselves and future generations.


You can read my updated notes here related to this post.

Should you only have children if you can afford to support them?

(Image from Instagram – Like father like son)


  • Angie

    Children should not be a privilege of the rich.
    The US has stunning inequality. Our gini score (common measure of inequality) according to the 2020 census is 48.5%. Anything over 40% is considered high and damaging, and over 50% is considered severe. No highly developed nation has a score anywhere near ours.
    As a result, more and more people fall out of actually being able to “afford” children. Working people. People with a lot to offer kids outside of financial.

    If we say people should not have kids unless they can afford them, given median prices involved with living with a family of 4 (rent, utilities, childcare, food, gas, education, insurance, healthcare, etc) these days relative to incomes, we are saying that kids should be a privilege of the upper middle class and wealthy only. That leaves a lot of terrible parents with kids and a lot of good parents without.

    No, we should have a safety net as such that all kids can thrive and a working parent is able to afford children. The system is broken and needs fixed for the good of families and the country.

    We already have a declining birth rate due to the impossible situation more and more people are put in each year in how “affordable” it is, and it is not good for the country.

    Of course, I feel more strongly about this. I got pregnant with my first on the birth control pill. We were financially very able, but then we got a divorce. I was not well off, but I was a great mother. When I got remarried, I got pregnant despite an IUD. We are not on aid, but we aren’t quite that we aren’t constantly struggling and scared either, especially since my youngest has a lot of health issues. Still a good parent and raising amazing children who have a huge amount to offer the world.

  • Kingw12

    Im a male student who hasn’t had a relationship and doesn’t want one due to the fact that i am set on my future goals. I am 22 years old and striving to get my LVN by 2023. Also, I plan on making my first big car purchase, buying an BMW M4 without parents help. I already own an Mercedes but i need a fun car on the side. After that i plan to get my RN and then try to go for nurse anesthetist. I would love to be in a relationship and have kids, but I need to be financially situated before having them. If i were to have kids now, my career and life goals would be ruined due to the time and financial restraints. However, if i was a millionaire i would go for having kids at a young age due to the fact i have time and money. When i do reach my goal I would like to meet someone that i truly love and have kids. I would put my daughter through really good education programs and other fun curricular activities. Also, i would stress the importance of a healthy lifestyle and limit the amount of junk food my daughter would consume. Also if my daughter is doing excellent in school i wouldn’t mind getting her a nice luxury car or getting her something she likes e.g. Louis Vuitton. Then if she has a career set in her mind, I wouldn’t mind spending the money on business school or med school.

  • NZ Muse

    I personally don’t think anyone should have kids they can’t afford to support. I see so many examples of this on my partner’s side of the family.

    But I know this cannot be policed. And I don’t think kids should suffer for their parents’ decisions. So…

    Of course this gets trickier when you think about people who can’t work due to disability, health issues etc.

  • Kasia

    This is definitely a touchy topic. While no one should dictate who reproduces and who doesn’t, there definitely needs to be more education about the costs of raising children and parenting in general. You shouldn’t have kids if you’re doing it for the money or don’t want them in the first place.

    Some people do like to milk the system, but I think this is the minority. If you have children for the right reasons, and these will vary from person to person, they will enrich your life regardless of your income or wealth status.

    Children are awesome, I can’t imagine life without my son, but they are an emotional, financial and life-long responsibility. Have them, enjoy them, love them and support them. People should think twice before expanding their family if they’re having trouble affording just the one. But in the end, it’s a personal choice and the government shouldn’t interfere, but nor should they have to provide adequately for those choosing to act irresponsibly.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Kids are definitely a responsibility. It’s sometimes sad for me to see parents who desperately want children and cannot have any, and then witness parents who have them and don’t cherish them.

    • Nida

      I think government should 100 percent interfere and there should be some policy on the number of kids people want to have

  • marilyn

    Gasp.i don’t believe the title of this post and how insulting it is to people less fortunate than yourself.what people don’t seem to realise is sometimes people get poor after they have kids.what then ?should they never have any kids because they are poor.its just insulting half the questions posed.disappointing reading ..people who think this way end up thinking they are better

    us poor folk next you will be asking if we
    dare breathe the same air as’s an idea why not make life and

    Bette and we all have the same things and options.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Did you read my entire post or just the title?

    • save. spend. splurge.

      ..just saying if you read the post, you would note that I did not mean it in that way (it was a way to grab attention via the title).

      For the record, my mother was part of a 16+ kid family who lived in total, shoeless poverty, so I hear from her firsthand how it feels. She said many times over that she wished her parents had never had so many children because they couldn’t afford to take care of them.

  • Vivian

    I used to agree with people should have freedom to decide when and how many offspring they should have. However, I worked at a government ministry where everyday I see kids being put into foster care because their parents could not afford them (with a host of mental/drug issues). Usually these moms have 4+ children, and the poor kids have a lot of illnesses (because their moms were taking drugs and/or alcohol during pregnancies) and learning disabilities. While they are being taken care of, which is the right thing to do, the cost of one of these children is on us the taxpayers. I think it’s unfair to the babies and taxpayers just because the parents have zero desire for birth control.

    While I don’t think a firm restriction on people having kids would work as it infringes on freedom, but policies like voluntary vasectomy might help bring down the numbers.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Would people actually go through a voluntary vasectomy, however?

      • Vivian

        @save. spend. splurge.:
        I read this a long time ago, so I don’t know where the source is, but a lot of Planned Parenthood provides free voluntary vasectomy. And I read one city offered $600 to the guy if they choose to do this reversible procedure. For a lot of the homeless, that’s a lot of money to motivate them, especially if they don’t want kids.
        Of course, I’m talking about people really down on their luck with drug/mental issues. Not talking about regular Joes and Janes who have jobs and can support their kids (as your update indicates)

  • terri

    This is not a public issue . This is not anyones dis ion to make except its a personal issue. Its always easy to judge others . But cant conform to our own mistakes., The public kills me trying to make dissensions for other peoples lives, What about the rich having kids? its ok. They can always ship them off to military schools or bording schools or hire a(poor low income) to nanny there child,never spending quality time with a kid scares them emotionally , Possibly cause adult issues in the future for them. Thing is, How many poor children grow up appreciating what they have ,Im not implying rich dont, but give a kid a xbox for there 16 th birthday and give a rich kid a porche, see who takes better care of what, to be poor isn’t a shame, and with today’s economy , show me a employer that gives a crap about his employees yearly income,,, poverty is caused by way more than drugs or ignorance , to bare a child is a god given right and a personal decision, not the public’s choice, sometimes the public goes to far, there will be a life limit before its all over with because old people will be a burden on the financial future, People should direct there issues in needed places like political wadges, money the government waste on there issues (not we the people issues) regardless of how everyone is initialed to there own opinion , eventually, that will bit you in the but,FIGHT FOR VETERANS, PETA, HUNGER, WADGES, EQUALITY , THERE’S SO MUCH NEED IN THIS WORLD AND UNNECESSARY STRUGGLES, make a difference for everyone not just you.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Did you read the entire post or just the title?

      My title was attention-grabbing but it was really to ask if people should only have kids if they can support them (which in and of itself, is being rich..)

    • save. spend. splurge.

      For the record, my mother was part of a 16+ kid family who lived in total, shoeless poverty, so I hear from her firsthand how it feels. She said many times over that she wished her parents had never had so many children because they couldn’t afford to take care of them.

  • Sally

    I am surprised that you didn’t question your co-worker’s statement and accepted it as fact- because I would have seen that scene going very differently based on my formed-in-my-head idea of you. I highly doubt that co-worker has every actually seen such a situation unfold in real life, and whatever anecdote he/she is basing it on is definitely coming from a very biased source. Like Annie, I doubt there are many situations like this where someone gets pregnant strictly for the benefits, but more importantly, it’s making these kinds of statements in casual conversation that creates that deep divide between people from different socioeconomic classes- this idea that “they” or the “other” can’t be trusted because they’re apt to take advantage of those generous government programs. I understand where people are coming from when they make these statements, but it really makes me uncomfortable and I would be careful making such general statements that dismiss large groups of people.

  • Annie

    For the record, I have been considered among the poor and have lived around the poor for most of my life. Not once have I encountered a single female who had a child because it would increase her share of the government dole.

    In fact, the reason I have encountered most often is that they have more children in an attempt to get OFF the dole. They meet someone who they love and has the financial ability to support them and their children and either bow to pressure from the male to provide him a child or they have one together to “solidify” the relationship. They always believe that it will last forever and that the relationship is their ticket OUT of poverty.

    That said, I don’t know about other areas of the United States but here in Kentucky I believe the maximum cash payment you can receive is about $300, no matter how many children you have. Of course, you qualify for food assistance but let’s face it, that’s not enough money to clothe, buy diapers, pay school fees, and whatnot for a single person, let alone multiple kids.

    Back to that cash allowance of $300. Any child support received is deducted from that cash amount. Any income earned (or even received as gifts) is deducted from that amount. As a result women are forced to live in public housing (where 1/3 of that is taken for rent and added utility expenses added to the bill), or to enter into a relationship with yet another man who can afford to pay their bills (and probably entice the female into giving HIM a child before he leaves her).

    The only exception to this that I’m aware of is for disabled persons on SSD (social security disability) or SSI (supplemental security income). They receive a check for themselves (around $800 I believe) and about $120 for each additional child they have. In this case it would make financial sense to have several children but it isn’t easy to be accepted into these programs and it can take YEARS of rejections to quality. I have known women desperate enough to arrange for a family member to care for their kids in order to commit themselves, feigning mental illness, to speed things along, but these women are few and far between because it opens the door for the other parent to declare the female incompetent and then take custody of the children. Heck, I’ve known of wealthier grandparents stepping in and using this to take the kids as fosters to improve THEIR income (since they get about $300 a month, medical benefits for the kids, and food benefits) to improve THEIR bottom line, so in many cases this can backfire on the female attempting it. Most I know say it isn’t worth the risk.

    As a result of what I’ve seen personally, I call BS on those who have this belief (that poor people should not be allowed to reproduce) because they are only doing it to get more money.

    HOWEVER, I feel very strongly that parents who do not support their children (farming them out to family and friends, who lose custody due to drug and other issues, who refuse to support the children they have (deadbeat dads, etc.), should NOT be allowed to have more. If they have no desire to care for the ones they have they should not have more. I have known many of who are guilty of this, having baby after baby, KNOWING that the child will be taken at birth by Social Services and it breaks my heart, just the same as the male who enjoys getting lots of women pregnant and not supporting ANY of them. I know one man who has at least 20 children, all by different mothers, who is in and out of jail because he cannot or will not support those babies in the least tiny bit. He rarely even visits the kids, much less help to support them financially. I have no problem with preventing THIS.

    Sorry for the rant but this topic gets my blood up.

    • Elle

      @Annie: Bravo, Amen and thank you.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Hear hear. Great rant by the way with actual facts.

      The only thing I will mention is that you’re talking about the U.S. and Canada to some extent (Quebec is VERY generous..)

      Anyway my point is more that in other countries they have done studies where in France, they give significant amounts of money to those with children, and if you have 3 or more, you can make more money than a minimum wage worker, and actually live off the child benefits.

      That is absolutely NOT to say that people actually do this, but it is financially more beneficial to have 3 kids than to work minimum wage.

      • Annie

        @save. spend. splurge.: Thank you for accepting my comment in the spirit it was given. This is an important topic and debate is good. Thank you for bringing this subject up.

        I made sure to qualify my comment because I don’t know about other nations. Even here in the US the numbers vary because assistance (other than SSI and SSD) is handled by the individual states. From what I understand, some states (Alaska comes to mind) provide a payment to parents regardless of income, though whether one-time or recurring I cannot recall.

        Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and discrimination toward the poor in this nation.Many do not understand that those who live below the poverty line still pay taxes and resent when they save up and purchase nice things, or the unemployed person who had nice things before hard times (injury, illness, job loss) befell them. Hopefully conversations like the one inspired by your post will educate them to the truth of the matter.

        As an aside, I have a friend who is distinctly middle class and shared similar views to your friend. He was rather hateful to anyone receiving public assistance. When an injury forced him to take a year off of work he was forced to apply for food assistance (he was single, so no children were involved thankfully). He was then forced to face the same discrimination from others that he had been giving out for years. He is a changed man now as a result.

        • save. spend. splurge.

          You’re welcome, I really like bringing up these kinds of “controversial” topics because if you never talk about it, you never hear about what others are thinking/feeling.

          You know, it would be an interesting exercise to have privileged folks (anyone above the poverty line) live in poverty for a while if they have not already done so…

  • tomatoketchup

    Anyone who wants to have kids should be able to have kids, without limits.

    I’m just tired of hearing the parents complain all the time about how broke they are. If you decide to intentionally have 5 kids, don’t bitch and moan about having to work 2 jobs to support them and never having the ability to go on vacation.

  • Chris Grande

    It’s sad that we’d even have to pose the question but modern society makes it expensive to have kids. Though no one should be regulated – I’m sure you feel the same though welfare mommas are a glaring black eye on this freedom. But lets not let exceptions rule the day.

    Anecdotally, getting my health insurance premium increase of 40% (and the renewal plan isn’t as good as the one I have – thank you “Un”affordable Care Act of 2010) makes me wonder how people of very modest income do it. Though I have friends in my circle who raised 3 and 4 kids on a very modest budget. It can be done as long as you don’t go to Nordstrom and buy $80 Nikes for your kid every 3 months as their feet grow.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      It’s really a question of budgeting, isn’t it? You can raise a family on a lot less. We’re sort of trying to do this but we’re also trying to buy ethically which raises the prices (vs. cheap Chinese crap).

  • Femme @ femmefrugality

    No one should regulate anyone else’s reproductive system. Period. The end.

    And does your co worker have hard data to support that opinion? I don’t know about Canada, but in the US those claims are usually made by people who have never been on welfare and understood that having a kid is nine times out of ten more expensive that the benefits you could “mooch.” And I just haven’t seen any data outside of personal opinion to support it. At least in my country.

    • Taylor Lee @ Engineer Cents

      I agree with Femme– I don’t believe in people’s reproductive habits being regulated. Period.

      There are a lot of other problems with the “shouldn’t have kids until you can afford them” mentality.
      * The big one being, let’s face it, only the very well off in our society can “afford” anything really. Is everyone who is struggling middle class or poor supposed to just, what, never reproduce? Not only does that hurt their family (assuming they want kids) but it hurts our society as a whole — and I’m talking US/Canadian society where birth rates are hovering around replacement rate. We also see creating the next generation as the sole responsibility of the parents, which is silly because it’s pivotal for any community and benefits everyone for well-taught well-fed kids to be growin’ on up.
      * Also, as someone else mentioned, the eugenics thing– pretty much a throwback to the 1930s in the way we want to reduce the preponderance of the “unsavory.”
      * Not to mention, people’s financial position changes in ways completely orthogonal to our reproductive habits. Is the family whose breadwinner lost a job suddenly unfit? Should everyone forego babies until financial stability that might only occur after their childbearing years.

      My mother had these same opinions about the poor not being allowed to have children, which is ironic because SHE was poor and had children and her mother was dirt poor and had children. And you know what, that meant I got a lot of governmental, community, and private assistance growing up (and especially going through college). And it was tough for the whole family. The thought that being on government aid turns anyone into a fat car is laughable to me. And now I am a high-earning contributing member to our society. Should I have not existed? Should I have gotten less government support, which would have meant I had fewer economic opportunities?

      A lot of the rhetoric against these welfare programs ends up meaning less money for the support of the kid. But is diminishing a child’s prospects as a means to get back at the unfit mother/father the right thing here to be doing?

      Sorry, not to rant, but this is a really emotional issue for me. It summarizes everything a poor kid asks themselves all the time about whether their existence is worthy or not just because they are poor, and if they are ruining parents’ and society’s financial future.

      • save. spend. splurge.

        There is never a good time to have children….

        My mother was part of a 16+ kid family who lived in total, shoeless poverty, so I hear from her firsthand how it feels.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Zero data. He’s just spouting. I tend to not say anything and just listen because it’s just opinion to me when there are no stats.

  • SarahN

    Unfortunately, the next step is eugenics though, saying poor people or otherwise ‘deficient’ people shouldn’t have kids.

    And, in a growth based economy, then of course, more mouths to feed, and more consumers to buy things. And work, and increase productivity. It’s a double edged sword, it really is!

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