Rajivpatel

BUSINESS COLUMNIST FOR SWISS RADIO AND TELEVISION

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Rajiv Patel is economic attaché at the Embassy of India in Berne and business columnist for Swiss Radio and Television. He has a degree in finance from the University of Delhi and does management consultancy for large corporations worldwide. He enjoys cricket, sudoku and love songs.

My wife wants us to have children

Dear Rajiv,

My wife wants us to have children. Do you consider this to be an economically rational decision?

Enzo B., Lugano 

After reading your question, I burst into uncontained laughter – many thanks for that! I mean, coming from someone in Switzerland, this is a no-brainer. But first, let’s explore some other situations.

Back home in India, having children is most definitely a rational decision. Many people are farmers and have never been to university, but they bloody well know what a Gaussian distribution is. Take 10 kids, place them on a curve, and you will see that some are outright stupid, most will do decent work in the fields, and one or two are smart enough to get a good job and earn lots of money. These are the ones who will end up paying your medical bills when you are old and sick. So have children. Have LOTS of children.

Now consider France. In this last bastion of socialism, having numerous offspring is one of the easiest ways to get rich, because the government will keep sending you benefits. Just do the maths: 164 euros per child per month, plus 64 euros for every wretched teenager in your household, then 167 more euros if you have at least three squirts, plus 458 euros if you hire a nanny... If you really want to get the cash rolling in, forget trying to get a job: you are better off staying at home, fooling around under the sheets. It’s what the president calls politique familiale.

Now back to Switzerland: in your canton, the state forks over 200 francs per child per month, but the rest is all bad news. Taxes are a nightmare for married couples with children. Medical insurance and dental treatments are murder. Worst of all, your sons and daughters will remain at home until they are 25 or 30, probably studying something totally useless like sociology or pre-renaissance Hungarian literature. After all that, it is highly unlikely they will ever earn a decent salary, let alone pay your medical bills. So please, sit down and discuss this with your wife. And try to get her to be a bit rational.

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