In response to Douthat's concerns about the fertility rate, Ann Friedman assesses the cost of having a kid:

[T]he decadent thing is having children, not remaining kid-free. Last year, the Department of Agriculture estimated a middle-income couple spent $12,290 to $14,320 a year per child. More recently, the Times' Nadia Taha published her calculations of how much it would cost her and her husband to have a child: A safer apartment. A better health-insurance plan. Lost wages. College. Total lifetime tab? $1.8 million.

Nancy Folbre examines the role government has played:

[M]any programs of the so-called welfare state, often derogated by conservatives as undermining family life, have rather proved a substantial – if not always successful – source of support for child-rearing. Unfortunately, we have socialized the benefits of child-rearing more thoroughly than we have socialized the costs, taxing the working-age population to provide benefits to the elderly through Social Security and Medicare but providing uneven and somewhat unpredictable public support to parents. Single mothers in particular remain far more susceptible to poverty in the United States than in similarly affluent countries.

Recent Dish discussion, sparked by Taha's piece, here.