The Argument for Parenthood

It is often suggested that having children has a negative net effect on the happiness of the parents. Economist Bryan Caplan disagrees, suggesting that studies have missed the evidence suggesting that parents sacrifice more than they need to and overestimate the long-term effects of parenting on a wide range of child outcomes (including education, morality, obesity, and general demeanour).

Caplan’s next book is the intriguingly titled Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids and in this essay for The Wall Street Journal he outlines his core argument for why we should have children:

While the popular and the academic cases against kids have a kernel of truth, both lack perspective. By historical standards, modern parents get a remarkably good deal. […]

It’s also true that modern parents are less happy than their childless counterparts. But happiness researchers rarely emphasize how small the happiness gap is.[…]

If […] you’re interested in kids, but scared of the sacrifices, research has two big lessons. First, parents’ sacrifice is much smaller than it looks, and childless and single is far inferior to married with children. Second, parents’ sacrifice is much larger than it has to be. Twin and adoption research shows that you don’t have to go the extra mile to prepare your kids for the future. Instead of trying to mold your children into perfect adults, you can safely kick back, relax and enjoy your journey together—and seriously consider adding another passenger.