I’m a retired economist

When I was an undergrad, I attended a presentation by David Foot, who, for anyone not particularly interested in economics or demographics (which I realize is probably a large portion of the population) is an economics professor and author of the book “Boom, Bust, and Echo”. He extensively studies changes in demographics and writes about how such shifts might impact social and economic issues.

Anyone still reading this?

Anyway, I picked up the Maclean’s issue with “The Case Against Having Kids” screaming across the front cover because, hey, although it’s a bit too late for me, I was still intrigued by the topic. And there was a quotation from David Foot! I was all like Buddy the Elf when he finds out Santa’s coming to the department store. “David Foot? I KNOW HIM!! I KNOW HIM!!!” Although clearly, I do not. But still. I was at a presentation by him, so it’s pretty much the same thing. My brush with celebrity. Have I mentioned that I met Jim Cuddy? I have? Oh.

Where is this going, you may be asking? How much coffee has Nicole had to drink today? Answer to the latter: a lot. Answer to the former: the Maclean’s article was actually very interesting and provided a lot of food for thought. I plan on writing a few posts about this article because a) the kids are in day camp this week and I actually have a bit of time to myself and b) I’m really bored of writing boring posts relating to my limited activities due to the hideous weather and how I wish I could live somewhere where the summer is greater than three days and the winter is less than nine months.

A LOT of coffee.

So anyway, the quote from David Foot is one well known in economics circles, “The higher the education a woman has, the greater likelihood she won’t have children”. This, of course, refers in large part to developing nations and the introduction of birth control to better women’s lives. In other words, if a girl is able to go to school, she may not concede to having eleven children in eleven years and suffering the subsequent health issues. Women’s issues in economics were a passion of mine in university; in fact my thesis was actually entitled “Gender Differences in the Effects of Alcohol on Labour Market Indicators”, which of course has nothing to do with any social or policy implications but hey, it was catchy.

It doesn’t take an economist to figure out that women who have children statistically make less money than women with children, while children have no effect on male earnings. That’s obvious. After childbirth, women typically work less hours and thus earn less. It is also something that I used to rail against in my grad-school days. I also had a poster of a fish on a bicycle and a copy of the feminist manifesto in my office. Which makes the fact that I am now a stay-at-home mom who bakes a whole lot of banana bread a little ironic.

Here’s the thing: if a woman chooses not to have children for any reason, I think that’s great. Our generation, in this area of the world, is blessed with choice. I celebrate our choices and our freedom to make choices. My choices are not any better or worse than someone else’s, and that is why it always hurts my feelings a little when I am repeatedly asked why I am not returning to work. One acquaintance in particular continually asks me why I would give up my career and essentially waste my education to be a stay-at-home mom. And I do not have a good, or calculated, answer to that other than “I want to.”

It’s not like I didn’t have occasional pangs of envy when women I worked with moved around the world and headed up their own teams of people and achieved high levels of success. I just knew that I wouldn’t be returning, and I was okay with that. I guess I just became a statistic.


  1. My response when asked why I stay home?
    It works for us.
    It avoids getting into sticky discussions and it doesn’t spark the mommy wars.
    I now want to read that article. A lot.
    Can I commiserate with you on the weather? OH MY LAND. I just moved back to Calgary after 12 years away and i do not remember this. I remember hot summers and mild (for Canada) winters.
    we are going a bit stir crazy round here!

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