Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think

Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 0465028616

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, contrarian economist Bryan Caplan argues that we’ve needlessly turned parenting into an unpleasant chore, and don’t know the real plusses and minuses of having kids. Parents today spend more time investing in their kids than ever, but twin and adoption research shows that upbringing is much less important than we imagine, especially in the long-run. Kids aren’t like clay that parents mold for life; they’re more like flexible plastic that pops back to its original shape once you relax your grip. These revelations are wonderful news for anyone with kids. Being a great parent is less work and more fun than you think—so instead of struggling to change your children, you can safely relax and enjoy your journey together. Raise your children in the way that feels right for you; they’ll still probably turn out just fine. Indeed, as Caplan strikingly argues, modern parents should have more kids. Parents who endure needless toil and sacrifice are overcharging themselves for every child. Once you escape the drudgery and worry that other parents take for granted, bringing another child into the world becomes a much better deal. You might want to stock up.

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use a spoon, and say no before she was one.” By the time they’re toddlers, we’re furtively comparing our kids’ brain power to their playmates’—and struggling to give our offspring an edge with books, educational videos, museum trips, and tutors. If our child does poorly in school, we comfort ourselves with the thought that “he just needs to apply himself.” We care so much about our kids’ intelligence that we try to increase it prenatally. One misreported study about “the Mozart effect” led moms

adult intelligence: “Growing up in the same family does not contribute to similarity in cognitive abilities later in life.” Another team of researchers tested about 1,600 reared-together adult twins from the Dutch Twin Registry. Identical twins got extremely similar scores on a standard IQ test, and the similarity between fraternal twins was about half as strong—implying a big effect of genes, and no effect of upbringing. In the Switched at Birth experiment, if you were smarter than 80 percent

KIDS YOU WANT TO HAVE The most effective way to get the kind of kids you want is to pick a spouse who has the traits you want your kids to have. Genes have a large effect on almost everything on the Parental Wish List. The right spouse is like a genie who grants wishes you are powerless to achieve through your own efforts. We already do this to some extent. Married couples are fairly similar in health, intelligence, education, income, criminality, and values—all important items on the Parental

to fight global warming? Still, a presumption is not an explanation. Why specifically would it be in our self-interest to have fewer kids than before? The answer people often spit out is that big families are no longer affordable, but the opposite is true. Big families are more affordable than ever, because we’re more than three times richer than we were in 1950. You can see our mounting riches in our homes. Compared to the tiny dwellings of the Fifties, modern families live in castles, with air

Experience: The Day Reconstruction Method,” Science 306 (5702) (December 2004), pp. 1776–1780. 17 “an act of parenting makes most people about as happy as”: Daniel Gilbert, “Does Fatherhood Make You Happy?” Time, June 11, 2006. 17 “When researchers ask parents what they enjoy”: “The Joys of Parenthood,” Economist, March 27, 2008. 17 Yet even he looks at these very numbers and concludes: Brooks, Gross National Happiness, p. 67. 18 Child care isn’t a picnic, but it beats a paying job: Also

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