Once upon a time, children were a necessity: they worked on the family farm carried on our traditions, and cared for us in old age. Now, as plummeting birthrates attest, having children has become a choice-and one we are more and more unlikely to take up. We live in a world where the role of parenting is being undermined, The prospect of slowly introducing our offspring to the excitement and mystery of life has been usurped by outside forces such as television und the internet. Consumer culture promotes materialism, individualism, and the prizing of autonomy-all values which run counter to the unselfish, long-term commitment required for child rearing, So, are there still compelling reasons for reproducing? We must start by recognizing that the unwillingness to have children is a symptom of a culture that has become too preoccupied with the central tenet of individual self-fulfillment. We still need something to connect us to each other and to the future. Far from being irrelevant in today's world, children are increasingly what links us to the world. They are, after all, one reason we care so much about education, crime, and the environment. If we accept that a child-friendly society is a better society, then how can we create one? Economist Joseph Schumpeter argued some 50 years ago that men and women would eventually see child rearing as just another expendable factor in life-cycle cost accounting, Perhaps this has occurred already. So we need to make child rearing once again a cost-effective strategy. We can achieve this through government policies in areas such as childcare, parenting leave, and financial assistance that help to redress the balance between family and work. In a wider sense, though, we as a society need to carefully consider the philosophical question. What use are children?