Why To Have Kids

Bryan Caplan posts part of the preface from a book he’s writing (which I’m much looking forward to reading), titled Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids.

My thoughts on the subject:

Genetic inclinations toward having children aside (as Daniel Dennett explains quite clearly in Freedom Evolves, we’re at at totally different level of “design” here, where conscious intention is fundamentally–though not functionally–disconnected from the genes’ “intentions”), the reason to have kids is to maximize utility!

“Happiness” is a reasonably good proxy for utility. (Though I prefer “joy,” myself.) And it’s been studied a lot. Consistently, the thing that makes people happiest (by self-report) is being surrounded by loved ones.

I have no evidence for this, but I assume that involves both 1. loving and 2. being loved.

On 1: We’re genetically programmed to adore the little beasts. To quote (and second) my friend Robin, “I just couldn’t believe how much I loved them.”

On 2: In my experience there are a very limited number of situations in which somebody, on one’s arriving home, jumps up and down, races around madly, leaps into your arms, and screams with glee. Perhaps this is a common experience for others, but for me it was quite unusual, and had extraordinarily high utility!

Yes, this particular behavior fades with age (one hopes…), but it gets replaced by mellower but still wonderfully warm and rewarding interactions that for most people are not thick on the ground–including (thank god! finally!) those of the mental and intellectual variety.






One response to “Why To Have Kids”

  1. Janet Avatar

    On 2 – you could just get a dog.