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SELFISH REASONS TO HAVE MORE KIDS by Bryan Caplan

SELFISH REASONS TO HAVE MORE KIDS

Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think

By Bryan Caplan

Pub Date: April 12th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-465-01867-3
Publisher: Basic

An unconvincing appeal to increase our collective birth-rate.

While the author’s mission is noble—encouraging individuals to parent two or more children—much of the book’s content is dubious and contradictory. The Cato Institute's Caplan (Economics/George Mason Univ.) begins by speculating that it’s selfish not to have children: “To deny the gift of life to a child who would have made your life better is a tragic missed opportunity.” The author, himself a father of three, seems unduly worried that would-be parents are talking themselves out of having children or expanding their families because they are either uninformed or focusing too much on the negative aspects of parenting. Yet, he neglects to mention postpartum depression, which affects up to 20 percent of new mothers and is often regarded as a convincing argument against pregnancy. Caplan plies readers with a variety of statistics, some of which are of questionable values—e.g., he cites a study that finds individuals with children are “5.6 percentage points less likely to be very happy” than those without children. His argument loses further muster when he states: “Last week, we left our seven-year-olds home alone for the first time; before long, they’ll be babysitting their little brother.” The author’s most implausible suggestion, however, might be his belief that parents should offer their adult children financial support to produce grandchildren in the form of early retirement gifts.

Inconsistent and unpersuasive.