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Car Seats, Baby Bust

Nicholas Christakis highlighted a new research paper claiming to show that car-seat laws have a negative effect on fertility. The more stringent safety regulations, the requirement to seat older and older — and heavier and heavier — children in them, and the inability to fit more than two in an average car’s back seat all work together to prevent 8,000 births a year.

Lyman Stone points out that car seats save 57 child lives a year.

Jonathan V. Last noted this problem years ago in his excellent book What to Expect When No One’s Expecting. Car seats may be pro-child, he observed, but they are strangely anti-family. Even families that have the means to upgrade find they hit upper limits quickly.

Even a 2015 Toyota Sienna, which nominally seats seven, has trouble fitting more than three car seats in it.  You can probably get up to five children under age nine in one if you’re just using a few booster seats, but, it is not fun. Higher-fertility Latter-day Saints have a term of art for the largest SUVs and vans: Mormon Assault Vehicles. (Google it, trust me.)

One of my friends, a father of five, found that he had more luck buying a discontinued VW Eurovan, whose rear-facing second row made access to the third row much easier.

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