Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bad Math Strikes Again!

We all probably know by now that a woman in California just had octuplets...and we all probably have our opinions on just how foolish her life choices have been. I'd like to strike a few blows, however, at the ignorant statements made in this story by Dr. Charles Sophy, whose title is "medical director of Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services," according to the article.

Dr. Sophy was quoted as saying the following:

Sophy said the expense of raising 14 children will likely be prohibitive, citing studies that estimate it costs roughly $2.5 million to raise a child to adulthood. Using that math, raising 14 children would cost roughly $35 million.

"And that's basic stuff," he said. "That doesn't include swimming lessons and things like that. It's very costly and hopefully the planning that needs to be done was done upfront."

Sophy continued, "14 is a large number of children, so yes, it'll be 14 times the stress."

Let us examine his math.
  • First of all, it is true that $2.5 million times 14 = $35 million.
  • $2.5 million per child to adulthood? Let's assume that this spans 22 years (graduate from H.S. at 18 and then 4 years of college). We then have an average cost of $113,636 per child per year. This works out to a cost of $2185 per child per week, or $312 per day. Are you really telling me that it costs an average of $312 every day to feed, clothe, and care for my child?
  • I have four children. Do I really need $454,545 every year to care for them? If so, I'm in big trouble!
  • And if my kids need swimming lessons, piano lessons, and the perfunctory trip to Disney, should I budget $500,000 annually?
  • Why did they not tell us, in this article, what "studies" Dr. Sophy cited? I'd like to know.
  • Do all kids produce equal quantities of stress? Dr. Sophy implies that they do, and that, furthermore, stress increases incrementally and consistently. Is the difference between the stress of 2 children and the stress of 3 children equal to the difference between the stress of 12 childen and the stress of 13? How would he know? How would anyone?
  • How many children does this gentleman have? How did he get to be a "director," and do his responsibilities include budgeting and/or accounting? [OK, those aren't really math questions...]
The moral of the story, as always, is to be cautious with the numbers that are thrown about in the media, as if they were serious, accurate statistics. They often are not. For example, consider the numbers Congress is throwing around right now...they have NO idea what they are talking about!

2 comments: said...

My parents raised 7 kids to adulthood and have 3 more getting there fast and, according to this clown's numbers, shouldn't have been able to afford to bring even the first (me, by the way) that far.

Just another example of big-brained adults hating children.


Anonymous said...

Oooooo, I'm so glad you brought this up. This whole story and the media's response to it are really starting to irritate me. I love your thoughts on the numbers this guy spewed out. I was thinkin' that with 6 children of my own, that we are really in big trouble!! But see, fortunately, I have a really biiiiiiiig God, and those little things like material needs that cost so much are just nothing to Him. It really isn't anybody's business why this lady has ended up with 14 children under the age of 8. Why does the rest of America need to know this? Granted it is unusual and a bit unnatural, but this woman chose life and for that I applaud her. Each one of these precious lives was created for a purpose and God has a mighty big plan for each matter how they got here.