Free Exchange notes a paper that suggest people are too few kids

This is related to a though experiment I am developing called “Citizen X”  Citizen X is our ideal positive externality. He gives and gives to society but takes the least possible amount in return.

What does Citizen X look like?

A few things we know. Citizen X lives in the Northeast Corridor where the marginal per person cost of infrastructure is low. I am guessing that he doesn’t own a car given that gas taxes are less than the cost of road maintenance. He might ride the bus but I doubt he ever takes the subway.

He definitely smokes and definitely drinks, a lot. The heavy taxes on those goods pays lots of taxes into the system and the negative health effects shorten Citizen X’s life span, which as we see is crucial. He gambles in high tax Atlantic City and of course plays the lottery everyday.

Citizen X almost certainly didn’t go to college. If he did, he worked his way through private school and somehow forgot to apply for financial aid. Indeed, its possible that Citizen X didn’t even graduate high school. I’d be interested to see the numbers on this.

However, he is extremely clever. He is likely an entrepreneur of some sort. We could hypothesis that he’s a genius programmer who created some web-related break through but I think that’s taking the thought experiment to far. Ideally, I want Citizen X to “replicable.”  That is, his extraordinary ratio of giving to taking didn’t occur by chance but because of predicable life patterns.

Citizen X never votes.

I don’t know if he is married or not but it would seem that he has quite a few kids – bringing into existence both new taxpayers and new little Citizen X’s, who are unlikely to take from the public pot.

He works a lot and stays away from public places when they are most likely to be in use.

He started working early in life and works right up until his 65th birthday, when he drops dead from a single large myocardial infarction. Probably all that smoking and drinking along with his generally poor genes.

He never collects a single Social Security check and never signs up for Medicare. He is actuarially perfect.

Does any of this description miss the mark and whatelse might we be able to say about Citizen X?