Bryan Caplan  

Ideas Have Consequences, Valeria Edition

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Valeria Jacqueline Caplan, my first daughter, my fourth child, was born one day early yesterday.  Baby and mother are both doing very well.
 
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As usual, I welcome my child's birth with a reading from the book of Julian Simon:
One spring day about 1969 I visited the U.S. AID office on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., to discuss a project intended to lower fertility in less-developed countries. I arrived early for my appointment, so I strolled outside in the warm sunshine.  Below the building's plaza I noticed a road sign that said "Iwo Jima Memorial."  There came to me the memory of reading a eulogy delivered by a Jewish chaplain over the dead on the battlefield at Iwo Jima, saying something like, "How many who would have been a Mozart or a Michelangelo or an Einstein have we buried here?" And then I thought, Have I gone crazy? What business do I have trying to help arrange it that fewer human beings will be born, each one of whom might be a Mozart or a Michelangelo or an Einstein - or simply a joy to his or her family and community, and a person who will enjoy life.
Thanks for all your support for my fourth statement.  Posting will be interrupted for a few days.  Starting next week, I'll be blogging from the night shift, baby willing.


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COMMENTS (18 to date)
Sean writes:

Congrats!

Zubon writes:

Congratulations on the small human.

AC writes:

Thanks for the positive externality!

Glen S. McGhee writes:

According to Joseph Schumpeter, as soon as people stop taking family for granted, "they cannot fail to become aware of the heavy personal sacrifices that family ties and especially parenthood entail." Sacrifices that, increasingly, few are willing to make.

Quite the reverse -- "one's primary obligation is to oneself rather than to one's partner and children" (Andrew Cherlin).

Divorce and child support payments have replaced these commitments because they are less demanding and more efficient. How else can we explain their rise to dominance?

Glen S. McGhee writes:

According to Joseph Schumpeter, as soon as people stop taking family for granted, "they cannot fail to become aware of the heavy personal sacrifices that family ties and especially parenthood entail." Sacrifices that, increasingly, few are willing to make.

Quite the reverse -- "one's primary obligation is to oneself rather than to one's partner and children" (Andrew Cherlin).

Divorce and child support payments have replaced these commitments because they are less demanding and more efficient. How else can we explain their rise to dominance?

Ghost of Christmas Past writes:

Although I am basically pro-natalist, I cannot subscribe to the obviously illogical argument that all humans should have more children because some of them may turn out to be Mozarts and so-on. Ex-ante those children are no less likely to be Mohammed Attas or Charles Mansons than Mozarts or Michelangelos.

A rational view of the situation would recognize that the probability that any particular child will prove to be a productive genius is heavily conditional on the qualities of his or her parents. I think it perfectly proper to calibrate pro-natalist advice to the qualities and circumstance of those to whom we offer it.

We should give very different advice to dimwitted welfare mothers than to 1250 M+V SAT-score professional women. The former should be encouraged to have fewer children and the latter more-- in both cases advice pushing against the baseline tendency in our culture.

Saturos writes:

She's cute!

Evan writes:

Awwwww! She's adorable! Congratulations!

Piotr Pieniążek writes:

Congratulations!

I have been waiting to post it when you would pick up the topic of signaling in education again, but due to your announcement about the interruption in posting I've decided to do it now.

For your IQ-education-signaling model I’ve run a simulation with (pseudo)random values (with K such as IQ* belongs to IQ distribution), but I doubt if everything is correct. Also, this simulation is not robust for some values, especially in case of normal distribution, so can anyone with high IQ and/or some experience - human capital ;) - check and modify it as to attain converging in simulation?

You can take a look at this here and download it here.

Thanks in advance!

Sol writes:

Congratulations!

Jeff writes:

Congratulations to you and your wife, Bryan.

Is the clone next? :)

c141nav writes:

Congratulations!!

David Youngberg writes:

Congratulations!

chipotle writes:

First of all, Bryan, Mazel Tov. It's great to welcome a new person into Humanity. She will be blessed by brains and a nice environment in which to grow thanks to choosing the right parents.

On the other hand, referring to your child as a "statement" or a "consequence" is sort of off-putting. I leave it to the reader to figure out why.

Another exercise for the reader: To see the giant, glaring, screeching, inflamed, painful logical flaw in the quote above from Julian Simon.

Chandran writes:

Congratulations, Bryan. May she bring you and your family, and all who meet her, much joy.

Curtis writes:

Congratulations!

Doug writes:

My wife and I also had our first and only daughter after having 3 boys. The technical term for an only daughter who is also the youngest is 'Princess.'

Evan writes:

@Ghost of Christmas Past

Although I am basically pro-natalist, I cannot subscribe to the obviously illogical argument that all humans should have more children because some of them may turn out to be Mozarts and so-on. Ex-ante those children are no less likely to be Mohammed Attas or Charles Mansons than Mozarts or Michelangelos.

Bryan has addressed this complaint before and argued that the average human born is more likely to be constructive than destructive. In other words, those children are significantly less likely to be new Attas or Mansons than they are to be Mozarts, Michelangelos, and Joys to their Families.

This can be better illustrated with Simon's original inspiration, the Iwo Jima memorial. You wouldn't say it was a good thing all those soldiers at Iwo Jima died because some of them might become criminals when they got back from the war.

@chipotle

Another exercise for the reader: To see the giant, glaring, screeching, inflamed, painful logical flaw in the quote above from Julian Simon.
Is it that new people can be destructive too? I already dealt with that above. The average baby is more likely to grow up to do good than evil. This is even true if you accept currently fashionable beliefs about the genetic distributions of various personality traits in different races.

Is it that Simon's reasoning implies the Repugnant Conclusion? Simon said new people could be valuable, but never said they were the only value. If you accept that there are other values than total utility (average utility, equality, etc.) the RC does not arise because increasing total utility is only good if it does not negatively impact other values. Simon's whole argument is that increasing population does not negatively impact other important values, on the contray it augments them.

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