Real estate bubbles lower the birth-rate

Shelter is a human necessity second only to food on Maslow's hierarchy of needs; but it's also an asset-class that is increasingly relied upon by the world's super-rich for money-laundering, rent-extraction and simple investment — this creates a dilemma for governments, who are under pressure to ratchet up the cost of a fundamental human necessity in order to enrich a minority of wealthy land- and property-owners.

This doesn't just lead to widespread fraud and financial collapse (as we saw in 2007/8), and in the erosion of quality of life, distorted tax policies (for example, the US mortgage interest deduction) and the systematic elimination of tenancy protections (to buoy up the value of rental properties) — it also means that people can't afford to have children.

This is playing out in all kinds of weird ways around the world, with delayed fertility, lowered birth-rates, and an increase in childlessness. This is a long-fused reverse population bomb: in 20 years, we'll all be living under Chinese circumstances, with huge cohorts of aging people beyond working years dependent on much smaller numbers of working-aged people to pay into the social security system. China's central government gave us the One Child Policy by decree; the rest of the world got a One or Fewer Children Policy, courtesy of the "free market."

Earlier this week, The ABC published a report arguing that childless couples will be Australia's most common family type by 2023:

One sociologist says the trend is already happening, and future government policy will determine whether the traditional family model continues to exist.

For many millennials… changing financial and social realities are important factors in the choice to have kids.

…couples [are] delaying their decision to extend their families, a trend which paired with Australia's ageing population means the nuclear family is in decline.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates between 2023 and 2029, there will be more people in a relationship living without children than families with kids…

Rise in childless couples? Blame the bubble
[Leith van Onselen/Macrobusiness]

Quelle Surprise! Pricey Housing Discourages Having Kids
[Yves Smith/Naked Capitalism]

(Image: Casey Serin, CC-BY)