Over on Evangel, Gayle Trotter has an interview with Bryan Caplan, professor of Economics at George Mason University, about his new book, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think. Throughout the book, Caplan shows that the “price” of high-quality kids is less than parents imagine. Then he asks and answers the question, “What does enlightened self-interest tell you to do when you find out that something is cheaper than you previously believed? Buy more.”
GT: Why are you trying to convince people to have more kids than they originally planned?
BC: I just discovered some very interesting scientific research on nature/nurture and realized that it has a lot to do with how many kids it makes sense to have. There’s about 40 years worth of research on kids who are adopted and twins, and what I found is that from this research, they really find that parents have surprisingly little long-term effect on kids. Which at first thought you might say, “What does that have to do with how many kids to have?” What it means is that parents who push themselves really hard and stress out a lot about pushing their kids to be something that they’re not — trying to change them — ultimately it doesn’t have that much effect on how kids turn out so it looks like parents are enduring a lot of needless unhappiness. And if you think about the main reasons why people seem so scared to have more kids, it seems like a lot of it is that they’re already really tired, and they just feel like another kid would be too much work. So I’m saying, “Look, a lot of this work that you think that you have to do for your kids isn’t really necessary for them to have a decent future.” And, once you rethink that, then you have an opportunity to have more kids without so much suffering. Maybe even enjoy them.