Youth have become more valuable to the economy as dependants then they are as independents.
I have thought this for years but most people think I am nuts. “Why would anyone want today’s youth to remain dependent on their parents?” but it isn’t really all that difficult to surmise. Anyone who has children knows that they cost a whack of cash. I have yet to meet a parent who doesn’t do the happy dance when there children are off the dole but this is more of a fantasy then a reality for most parents these days.
Today, the gift of children keeps on taking and the beneficiaries are those who have positioned themselves on the receiving end of the money flow. From parent, to child, to the open hands of those who provide services or products geared toward youth. Dependant children, from birth until they are financially independent, are a significant part of our current economic system.
In 2008, GlobalIssues.Org reported that companies spent 17 billion dollars in advertising to children in the United States alone. In that same report it was noted that teens were responsible for 160 Billion dollars of spending and that money is not all coming from the sweat of their little brows. Dependent children are a goldmine for retailers and this teen like dependence now extends into our children’s 20’s and beyond.
This doesn’t even take into account the money spent on Post Secondary education, a billion dollar industry unto itself and only getting more costly. Crawford Kilian points out in his article The Case for Free Post-Secondary Tuition, 29 Sep 2012, TheTyee.ca. The cost of post secondary education has risen far quicker then what most can afford.
The costs of post-secondary have far outstripped inflation. In 1958, my first year at Columbia University, tuition was $1,100 — $8,768 in 2012 dollars. But Columbia now charges $45,028 for a year’s tuition, over five times what I paid. The university estimates total costs for a year’s study (living on campus) at $62,161″
His example coincides perfectly with the glory days of a public school education in North America. In 1958 you didn’t need a university degree, you could walk out of high school and start your adult life. Young adults had a choice, some freedom, some independence and it didn’t cost them a cent. A high school education is not worth what it use to be however.
In the 54 years since Since Kilian graduated, academic inflation has rendered a high school diploma, just short of worthless. The only choice our young people have is to continue on with their education, well beyond any sort of biological or social definition of adulthood at a huge financial cost.
Of course there are reasons for this, the demand for “skilled labour” has necessitated this adolescent holding pattern while our young’ins get edumacated but you gotta wonder, is there more to it than the “skilled employee” explanation? Did someone, somewhere along the line say, “Why employ young adults, when we can warehouse them in some school someplace, all in the name of education. Then we can milk their parents for everything they are worth!”
Since 1958 when Kilian started his “affordable” post secondary career, we have created an economy that is driven by dependant youth and there is little chance of going back. Today our young people represent a billion dollar cash cow. Turning them back into responsible adults paying rent, covering utility bills and buying food, would mean a billion dollar beating for our economy
Like our economic dependence on oil, we have become economically dependant upon warehousing our youth for as long as possible. Although you would never be able to get a politician to say it, they have to be thinking… “Keep them dependant and keep them spending.” but you gotta ask yourself…
- “Is this the best use of a young adults time?
- “Shouldn’t they become functional adults before they are thirty something?”
- “How in gods name did we come up with the idea that capable young people need to “learn” how to be functional adults in an institution?”
What this all means for the family, is that the role of parent has been changed. The financial commitment for a child has gone from 0 – 18(ish) to 0 – indefinite. The result is that we have changed the way we raise our children.