H/T Audacious Epigone for highlighting this comment by Almost Missouri. The AP mentioned later in the post isn’t me, it’s some smart guy.
The government is going to tax everyone’s kids to pay for your retirement, so it doesn’t particularly matter whether your kids feel like supporting you or not. Indeed, Social Security may be the biggest perverse incentive in history. For the previous few million years, your care and provision for your young determined their care and provision for you later. Two generations ago, FDR made everyone’s own kids materially irrelevant to their later selves. Indeed, children became a liability instead of an asset. You will pay to raise them, but they will be taxed to pay for everyone else’s retirement. The material winners are those who don’t have kids, never drain themselves of the massive child-rearing investment and then get to retire on everyone else’s kids’ taxes. The suckers raise all the kids who then pay for the freeloaders’ retirements. This is an unexamined cause of the Great Antinatalism.https://www.unz.com/anepigone/the-biggest-perverse-incentive-in-history/
I expect this mechanic will be present in many decadent civilizations, since politically powerful oldsters demanding retirement income sounds like a very consistently human thing to do, so anyone out there with a cliometrics theory in their drawer may want to add it to their diagram.
Also, Craig Nelson reiterates an old MM talking point worth reiterating:
I heard something some time ago that had a big impact. A woman who had worked for something like 40 years in a hopeless cases hospice–a place where people went to die–was asked what it was that the dying most regret. According to this woman, who knew human death as well as can be known to the living, said that, overwhelmingly, dying humans regret not maintaining relationships. They didn’t regret not being more thrifty, or not making better career choices, or not being more spiritual, or not being more faithful to God, or not working harder, or not being kinder, or not spending more time in nature, or not doing more charity work, they regretted allowing those relationships they’d had in life to disintegrate.