The common behaviors we observe in marriage are often believed to be the best behaviors. It is argued that people choose to do the same thing in relationships because these are the most effi cient arrangements for saving time, money, and eff ort. For example, living together saves money because people can pool their resources into one living space rather than two. Sharing a bedroom saves space in the house. Dividing the housework along gender lines allows husbands and wives to specialize in certain tasks and frees one person to focus their eff orts on a career and making as much money as possible rather than having both partners juggle work and family responsibilities. All of this sounds logical, and there are defi nitely effi ciencies in some common practices of marriage. 1

On the other hand, there are also an awful lot of ineffi ciencies, but people follow the common behaviors anyway. Some marital behaviors are simply costly and a bad return on your investment. Take, for example, having children. Th e U.S. Department of Agriculture regularly calculates the cost of raising a child. A recent estimate is that parents will spend about $245,000 to feed, transport, clothe, and care for a child until the age of 18. Th e amounts vary between $175,000 and more than $400,000, depending on the parents’ income. 2 Th is does not include the cost of college or university, which, as you know, costs parents a lot. A New York Times writer revisited this estimate, making it more realistic for her circumstances. She added the higher cost of day care in her area, the increased costs of moving to a safer home with good schools, and increases to the cost of health insurance and the cost of braces. She extended the age of fi nancial support to 25, “since we would probably not cut off our child fi nancially” once they were 18. She included half the price of tuition

which has been estimated by other studies to cost over $8,000 every fi ve years. Her new estimate is $1.8 million to have a child. 3 One potential benefi t of having children is that they will care for you in your old age. But the amount spent on children, if invested over 18 or 25 years, would provide quite luxurious assisted-living accommodations for the last years of life and provide more money for travel and luxury items for the many decades before assisted living is necessary. In the past, children cost a lot less and were actually highly productive members of the family, working along with other family members to contribute to the family income. 4 Today, this is rare. Children are a lot of things-cute, a joy, fun. Without a question, children can provide meaning and love. But, by any measure, they are not a good economic decision. Yet, as we saw, the vast majority of married couples have or want children.