Bryan Caplan  

The Julian Simon Club

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Art Carden, who is also expecting another child, is inviting economists to join his new Julian Simon Club:

Simon's research shows that fears and worries about "overpopulation" are senseless. Further, expressions of those fears and worries in comments like "it is irresponsible to have more than two children" have gained a wholly undeserved degree of social respectability. As an aside, I think these are expressions of the kinds of non-material status-seeking I discussed in this post. I discussed overpopulation in my 2009 Mises University lecture on "Environmental and Resource Economics," and I provide some useful (?) links in an accompanying post.

I propose, therefore, that we create the Julian Simon Club. Just as Gregory Mankiw has created the Pigou Club to recognize "an elite group of economists and pundits with the good sense to have publicly advocated higher Pigovian taxes," I propose that we create the Julian Simon Club to recognize "an elite group of economists and other pundits with the good sense to have publicly advocated having more children." Bryan is definitely a member, if he chooses to accept, and just so we're crystal clear: I advocate having more children. Parenthood probably isn't for everyone, and indeed there are probably a lot of people who are perfectly happy without kids. If you're on the fence about having another child, whether it is your first or your fifth, I encourage you to take the plunge. I'm pretty sure it's what Julian Simon would have wanted.

I joined at once.  Like Mankiw's Pigou Club, you can join the Julian Simon Club merely by expressing agreement with the premise.  Come one, come all.


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COMMENTS (6 to date)
Ted Levy writes:

This sounds like a fascinating club, but I wonder about the name. I understand Julian Simon as arguing that we were not overusing resources, or, to put it another way, that we were not overpopulating.

This is not quite the same as advocating we have more children. The general advocation, as opposed to simply saying that there should be no presumption against having more children, seems to imply we are underpopulating. Was that Simon's claim? Or do I read more into the phrase "economists and other pundits with the good sense to have publicly advocated having more children" than is intended?

Mark writes:

I agree with Ted Levy. Your analysis simply turns Simon into a devout Catholic. There's nothing wrong with that, only that I don't believe it was Simon's point.

texx writes:

I am neither an elite economist nor a pundit, but count me in. Now I just have to convince my wife. We have two, debating a third. I have been trying to get my wife to read selfish reasons for quite a while.

Chris writes:

Maybe it's just the economic historian in me, but I'm incredibly annoyed with assertions that someone's research "shows" X or Y is an iron-clad law about how economics and growth will always operate, based on about 250 years of the 10000 years of agriculture, or tens of thousands of years of Homo Sapiens. More Greg Clark please!

As it happens, I tend to agree with Simon, at least in the short term, but a little humility is really called for, and if I never heard about the Simon-Ehrlich bet again, it would be too soon.

luke writes:

The answer is yes, it was Simon's point. He made the argument that Earth is underpopulated many times.

N. writes:

Yes, as much as I believe that human ingenuity is the most valuable resource in the world, I am having a hard time making the leap to, as Mark suggests above, 'Catholicism.'

Isn't there some kind of diminishing marginal utility issue here?

That, and I don't think that 'Selfish Reasons...' draws this conclusion. I think the argument is that the kinds of people who are least likely to have more children (professionals who have the least amount of time to invest in what they perceive as the burdensome job of turning their kids into high performers) should have more children, because their efforts in raising them aren't going to have much lasting impact on their lives overall. And kids are fun!

This suggests to me a message far more nuanced than, 'be fruitful and multiply.'

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