I recently got back in touch with a classmate who graduated  a decade ago and had migrated halfway around the world to marry the women he fell in love with back then. I had promptly lost contact with him while dealing with my own personal issues, but thanks to the current global popularity of social networking websites we were able to update each other  via messages sent back and forth. Proudly he told me of his two kids and in reply I revealed that I’m still single and childfree, and that given my age and the uncertainties in the British economy, it looks likely to stay that way indefinitely. However, he was of the opinion that being a male, I still had plenty of time to start a family of my own. As if by coincidence, I happened to stumble upon this blog posting on recent research on male fertility. It seems, that men approaching midlife need to be everybit as aware of the ticking of their biological clocks as women already are today. Raising a child in today’s resource constrained and environmentally challenged world is already a significant gamble for healthy couples in their 20’s. Couples who waited until their financial situation was more secure before starting to have kids could face additional financial burdens due to increased health risks to their children. Furthermore, some of the problems their kids might face, such as autism, lower IQ,  and schizophrenia, may not be easily compensated for through financial means alone.

What time I have left to begin healthily reproducing offspring is most likely a lot shorter than most of my friends think.

But I’m not bitter. In fact, I’ve been a subscriber and advocate of the childfree philosophy for over three years now. And when I read in monetary terms how much new parents spend and have given up during the first few years of a baby’s upbringing, I find myself even more convinced that I’ve made the right choice.

Parents spend an average of £13,696 in their baby’s first year with more than £2,000 of that going towards childcare.

In the first three years of their child’s life, parents spend £1,496 on feeding them, £1,142 on clothes and £1,289 on books and toys.

However, one should not infer that I think all parents have made the wrong choice, since everyone’s situation is different and we all should be left to make up their own mind. But I cannot help but wonder how much forethought goes into such an important decision when I read about the conditions some struggling families are forced to endure due to the worsening economy. But is it really fair to demand that couples who are contemplating the step toward parenthood, should be able to predict economic conditions over the two decades it takes to raise a human from birth to adulthood, when top economists cannot even tell whether the recovery will come this year or next? And yet there are parents out there who expect way too much of themselves and end up overreaching. When circumstances do not go the way they hoped the consequences can be disasterous.

A spate of high-profile mass killings in the United States in recent months — including half a dozen rampages since March — shows the impact the economic meltdown is having on rising violence, experts say.

Direct correlations may not always immediately surface, but criminologist Jack Levin, a professor at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, says the trends are clear.

“Catastrophic losses serve as inspiration, or precipitant,” he told AFP.

In a severe recession there are simply more people suffering such a loss, he says.

In an economic downturn, the United States often sees “many more large-body-count murders — on the job, in the family — as many more Americans feel desperate in a situation they feel got completely out of control.”

Parenthood is indeed a leap into the unknown and I think anyone making that leap, especially after considering the same things that I have, are very courageous people.