Should Kids Pay Their Own Way?



Children are expensive to raise. Ensuring that they are raised in such a way that they are able to lead a minimally decent life costs time and money, and lots of both. Who is responsible for bearing the costs of the things that children are undoubtedly owed? This is a question that has received comparatively little scrutiny from political philosophers, despite children being such a drain on public and private finances alike. To the extent that there is a debate, two main views can be identified. The Parents Pay view says that parents, responsible for the existence of the costs, must foot the bill. The Society Pays view says that a next generation is a benefit to all, and so to allow parents to foot the bill alone is the worst kind of free-riding. In this article, I introduce a third potentially liable party currently missing from the debate: children themselves. On my backward-looking view, we are entitled to ask people to contribute to the raising of children on the basis that they have benefited from being raised themselves.