Bryan Caplan  

Having More Kids: Don't Ask, Do Tell

Universal Human Nature... Krugman's Collectivism...
When I explain that I'm writing a book called Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, people often ask me, "Well, why aren't you having any more?"  It's a fair question, but one that one should always hesitate to ask - for at least two reasons.

First, it usually takes two people to create a life.  Someone might completely buy my arguments (see here and here for starters), but fail to act on them because his or her spouse is unconvinced.

Second, many couples suffer from infertility.  It's a cause of great silent suffering for millions who long for kids they can't have.  When you ask an individual point-blank, "Why aren't you having any more kids?," there is a good chance that you are thoughtlessly twisting the knife.

This doesn't mean that people shouldn't talk about the kids they're having.  Far from it; I'm delighted every time I hear that my arguments have created a life.  What it means, rather, is that one should follow the rule, "Don't ask, do tell."   You should avoid asking sensitive personal questions, but there's every reason to share happy personal information.  Such as... another Caplan baby is on the way!

sono7.jpgNo joke!  Starting mid-September, I'll be expecting another baby, and EconLog readers should be expecting a lot of 2 AM posts.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (25 to date)
jurisnaturalist writes:


Todd writes:


Jacob Oost writes:

Your boys can swim!

SB7 writes:

Wonderful! My sincerest congratulations.

(And now I'll selfishly have something else to distract me at 2.00am.)

HispanicPundit writes:

Congrats man! Good news indeed.

My prediction: A girl. ;-)

Unit writes:

How's your happiness? Joking aside, congratulations!

Congratulations! The world needs one more rabble rouser.

David R. Henderson writes:

Mazel tov.

Peter St. Onge writes:


Troy Camplin writes:

Congratulations! Another Camplin baby is also on the way. Mid-September due date.

jb writes:

Excellent! More stimulus on the way (diapers, clothes, furniture, etc)

Also, congrats. Also congrats to Troy Camplin.

Me, I've had my three, so I've already done my part :)

Bill writes:


Justin Ross writes:


Matt C writes:

Congratulations to you and your wife.

David R. Henderson writes:

Dear Bryan,
One other comment. You wrote the following:
When you ask an individual point-blank, "Why aren't you having any more kids?," there is a good chance that you are thoughtlessly twisting the knife.
That's a good point.
There's sometimes another side to it, though. Because you're a thoughtful, gentle person who practices what he preaches, you never asked me why Rena and I have only one kid. But in telling you the painful story of why, I discharged some of the feelings. Similarly, I like it when people ask me how my brother died because when I tell about his suicide, I discharge some of the pain from that awful event 39 years ago.
So it sometimes helps to ask people personal things if you're really willing to listen. It's a judgment call.
Your friend,

Snark writes:

Awesome! The sonogram shows what appears to be a virgin holding a sheaf of wheat.

stanfo writes:

A selfish reason for me to want Bryan Caplan to have more kids....

More little Caplans will likely make the world a better place.

Congrats and thank you!

Eric Crampton writes:

Congrats! Pic looks like there's a sole occupant in there this time. Hope Tristan and Aidan don't think the little one's too lonely in there.

Scott Wentland writes:


Glen writes:

"Starting mid-September, I'll be expecting another baby..."

Okay, if it weren't for the ultrasound photo with yesterday's date, I would have taken this phrasing to mean you and your wife had just decided to have another child -- and that you expected the conception process to take about 7 months.

Jacob Oost writes:

Just think, a little constipated Caplan that can't make up its mind over the marginal utility it would derive from loading its diaper or continuing to hold it in.

ardyan writes:

shouldn't someone who is older and already finished raising kids be the only person to say that its worth having kids? And I know your reasons are the selfish reasons to have kids, but you should really consider what a kid wants, which is impossible to determine, and so in my mind one should never have kids. you may be happy in this life, but what about the risk that the kid is born with a disease or is teased at school or that has to experience their parents die or grows up to be totally depressed? I never want to have kids because there is no way to guarantee your kid will be happy. And if you want a kid, their potential happiness should be a major consideration. Sorry to ruin the party. Did I mention that I also hate kids?

Bill writes:


I have to echo what Glen said...until I noticed the ultrasound image.

Just had our first a couple months ago, and lo and behold, he accompanies me on my nocturnal blogging.

Tracy Wilkinson writes:


SSB Charley writes:

Congratulations Bryan. I cosign stanfo's thoughts. We need more folks like you around.

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