Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Family Economics

A Category Archive (244 entries)

Divorce and Motivated Reasoning in the WaPo

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
In The Economic Naturalist, Robert Frank remarks: Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Psychologist Tom Gilovich has suggested that someone who wants to accept a hypothesis tends to ask, "Can I believe it?"  In contrast, someone who wants to reject... MORE

Kids and Happiness: The State of the Art

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Nelson, Kushlev, and Lyubomirsky's "The Pains and Pleasures of Parenting: When, Why, and How Is Parenthood Associated With More or Less Well-Being?" (forthcoming in the Psychological Bulletin) is a great survey of research on parenthood and happiness.  Quick version: Contrary... MORE

The Marital Return to Education: An Epiphany

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Suppose college graduates out-earn high school grads by $30,000 a year.  Naive analysts will tell you, "Finish college and you'll get a $30,000 raise."  The clever, however, will warn you about ability bias.  The kind of people who become college... MORE

The Modest Problem of Children Having Children

Family Economics
James Schneider
Most people take it for granted that teen pregnancy causes poor outcomes. However, how do you untangle whether teen pregnancy causes bad economic outcomes or is merely a leading indicator? Arline T. Geronimus and Sanders Korenman approached the issue... MORE

Ballparking the Marital Return to College

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
When education correlates with a good outcome, labor economists are usually eager to publicize the fact.  There is, however, one glaring exception.  Labor economists rarely announce that the well-educated are more likely to marry a well-educated spouse - and capture... MORE

Evolutionary Psychology on Crusonia

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Suppose two 20-year-olds wash up on a the desert island of Crusonia.  One is male, the other female.  They are both from the same country, but are otherwise randomly selected.  Both are convinced they have no hope of escaping the... MORE

The Futility of Quarreling When There Is No Surplus to Divide

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Imagine two people have the following relationship options:Option A: DateOption B: Be FriendsOption C: Stop Seeing Each OtherPerson #1's preference ordering is: {A, C, B}.  In English, #1 most prefers to date, and least prefers to just be friends.Person #2's... MORE

How Rival Marriage Is

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Last month, I observed:If you share your home with a spouse, you don't have as much space for yourself as a solitary occupant of the same property.  But both of you probably enjoy the benefits of more than half a... MORE

Mankiw on Parental Advantages

Family Economics
David Henderson
The recent paper by Chetty et al. finds that the regression of kids' income rank on parents' income rank has a coefficient of 0.3. (See Figure 1.) That implies an R2 for the regression of 0.09. In other words, 91... MORE

How Rival Is Your Marriage?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Two childless singles, each earning $50,000 a year, marry.  Both keep working, living by the old-school principle of "share and share alike."  What happens to their material standard of living?  If all depends on how rivalrous their consumption bundle is.If... MORE

Public intellectuals often talk about "conservative economics."  The truth, though, is that conservative economics is essentially non-existent.  Academic economists range from liberal to libertarian.  While Republicans are rarely libertarian, Republican economists are the exception that proves the rule.This is a... MORE

Via my Facebook feed and email, LearnLiberty posts a link to this debate snippet featuring Steven Horwitz and Jeffrey Reiman. The first question asks whether we should work to alleviate the problems of people whose parents make bad decisions. I'm... MORE

Play and Exit

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I've now read Peter Gray's Free to Learn twice.  To be honest, he's the first unschooler to deeply impress me as a thinker and a writer.  Before I discuss the heart of his book, I plan to read his key... MORE

For Natalism

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Jason Sorens critiques natalism over at Pileus.  Here's my point-by-point reply.  Jason's in blockquotes, I'm not.The main advantage of more people is a deepening of the market and the division of labor. More people means more ideas and more specialization.... MORE

Via Scott Shackford, at Reason, we learn of "The Scourge of Illegal, Underground Dinner Parties." In short, people are paying to attend dinner parties featuring fancy food. And such transactions are unregulated. Naturally, people are concerned. Presumably, some of those... MORE

What Happens to Women Who Are Denied Abortions?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
In Joe Colucci's thoughtful response to my "Nudge and Abortion," he writes:[D]ata saying that women are generally happy with their children, even after unplanned pregnancies, are unlikely to be representative of the population we're. More relevant evidence comes from the... MORE

Parental Economics and Risk: A Couple of Reading Suggestions

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Art Carden
Last week, I raised a few proverbial glasses to my wife and two of my kids. It's only proper that I continue with a few words on parenting. While I've basically given up Facebook (I'm still cleaning out my friends... MORE

Happy Anniversary, Shannon Carden

Family Economics
Art Carden
Ten years ago today, our college pastor Scott Sparks--who was at Calvary Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa before he moved to Knoxville--asked then-Shannon Taylor if she would take me to be her lawfully wedded husband. Shannon said "I do." Ten years,... MORE

Happy Birthday, David Carden

Family Economics
Art Carden
One year ago today, we welcomed our third child into the world. We named him David Simon Carden--David for the Old Testament king, foibles and all, and Simon after Julian Simon. One of the most tragic beliefs people have today... MORE

Happy Birthday, Taylor Grace Carden

Family Economics
Art Carden
Three years ago today, I started learning an important lesson about love. Our daughter, Taylor Grace Carden, was born, and I learned that the love a father feels for his children isn't particularly comparable across kids. It doesn't mean anything... MORE

I already wear a lot of hats. I'm excited to add another: travel writer. I love to travel, and at the beginning of the year, I started dabbling in the world of credit card travel rewards and the like. This... MORE

Glass 45 Percent Full

Family Economics
David Henderson
American households have rebuilt less than half of the wealth lost during the recession, leaving them without the spending power to fuel a robust economic recovery, according to a new analysis from the Federal Reserve. From the peak of the... MORE

Chef Rudy's Virtues Project

Economics and Culture
David Henderson
When I was 16, I had a job at the Minaki Lodge in Minaki, Ontario from which I was fired. (Why was I fired? That's a whole other story. It had nothing to do with my work ethic.) After I... MORE

A Natalist Provision

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
In Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, I advise people to "privatize natalism."You don't have to be Bill Gates to strategically design wills, trusts, and one-shot gifts. A middle-class income is more than enough. Compared to the out-of-pocket cost of... MORE

I enjoyed David's post on Bryan's Bubble. I'm an avid consumer (and producer) of advice, and I read big chunks of Harry Browne's How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World after David recommended it. Browne makes the very important... MORE

On Homeschoolery: A Bet, Revised

Economics of Education
Art Carden
Thanks, everyone, for suggestions on my proposal below, and I'm especially honored that seasoned bettor Bryan offered a few suggestions (I also got a nice email with suggestions from EconLog friend Fabio Rojas, who noted that the selection biases in... MORE

Art's Bet

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
First, let me join the rest of EconLog in welcoming guest blogger Art Carden.Second, I'm extremely pleased that Art quickly proposed a home school bet.  Betting is what separates us from the mass of men who live by loose and... MORE

On The Effects of Homeschooling: A Bet

Alternative Economics
Art Carden
I can't wait for Bryan's The Case Against Education: every semester, my beliefs move in favor of the signaling model and against the human capital model of schooling. This isn't to say there aren't a lot of students who are... MORE

Policy Implications of the Marriage Premium

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
In the comments, Thomas Boyle fears that the marriage premium could become an excuse for bad policies: Years ago we heard that homeownership was positively associated with all sorts of socially desirable outcomes. Now we know that public policy to... MORE

9 Short Observations about the Marriage Premium

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
In the past, I've faulted economists for ignoring the marriage premium (here, here, and here for starters).  Last week, when Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry and Megan McArdle joined my fault-finding expedition, Justin Wolfers pushed back on Twitter:There's no credible evidence justifying the... MORE

Brick's Insight on Childhood

Economics of Education
David Henderson
I watched a rerun of one of my favorite TV shows, "The Middle," last night and one segment was so good that I DVRed it and then transcribed the dialogue. (See here for some of the highlights.) In case you... MORE

"Get Married and Stay Married"

Cost-benefit Analysis
David Henderson
I'm glad that co-blogger Bryan Caplan raised the issue of the marriage premium. When I was writing a review of Dwight Lee's and Richard McKenzie's excellent book, Getting Rich in America: 8 Simple Rules for Building a Fortune and a... MORE

Premia and Double Standards

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Why are economists so quick to encourage college and so slow to encourage marriage?  Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry has a good story:[E]conomists' "cosmopolitan perspective" (as Cowen puts it) makes them not feel good at the idea of public policy that would interfere... MORE

How I Raise My Children

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Tonight I screened The Sixth Day, Schwarzenegger's 2000 cloning flick, for my twin sons.  After the movie was over, I had them read this passage aloud:If you think clones are contrary to nature, think twice. Identical twins are naturally occurring... MORE

My Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids tries to persuade people to increase their fertility.  Jonathan Last's What To Expect When No One's Expecting explicitly disavows this aim: Finally, this book is not an attempt to convince you to have... MORE

Jonathan Last's new What To Expect When No One's Expecting is the best-written, most engaging, and funniest book on the social cost of low birth rates and population decline.  While he focuses on fertility, he breaks with typical conservatives by... MORE

Marriage, Kids, and Party

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Lately I've often heard that family is the key divide between Democrats and Republicans.  Democrats are supposed to be single and childless, Republicans married with kids.  So I decided to check this out for myself in the General Social Survey. ... MORE

Vipul Naik of Open Borders sent me a very insightful email on the non-pecuniary returns to education.  He's kindly given me permission to reprint it.  Vipul speaks:I've been thinking more about your human capital/signaling/ability bias theories of education. It seems... MORE

After I finished my last post, parenting life lessons kept coming to mind.  Ten more:1. You cannot be a bad spouse and a good parent.2. Do not let your kids ignore you.  If your words call for a response, immediately... MORE

My eldest sons just turned ten, which means I've been a father for ten years.  Ergo, it's time to inventory the top things I've learned from my decade of experience.  In no particular order:1. Kids are a consumption good, and... MORE

Decadent Parenting

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
More on decadent parenting from the intro of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids:To be brutally honest, we're reluctant to have more children because we think that the pain outweighs the gain. When people compare the grief that another child... MORE

Kidphobia: Decadent, or Just Misguided?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
The U.S. birthrate is falling, and Ross Douthat largely blames decadence: [W]hile the burdens on modern parents are real and considerable and in certain ways increasing, people in developed societies enjoy a standard of living unprecedented in human history, and the... MORE

Single Parenthood: The Reason Matters

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Susan Mayer's What Money Can't Buy concludes by tossing out a fun fact I've often heard repeated.  (I even repeated it myself once in an exchange with Charles Murray).Both low income and single parenthood may in fact be correlated with... MORE

China's Empty Cities: A Family Affair?

Public Choice Theory
Garett Jones
This week I returned from a trip to Shanghai and Nanchang; the latter is in Jiangxi province, and as a GMU aside, the food in Jiangxi was stunning.  I was in Nanchang to give some lectures at Jiangxi University of... MORE

On Speculation: BEST LETTER EVER

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
David Henderson
This is from a letter that Don Boudreaux wrote to the Washington Post: Have you noticed the enormous increase in greedy speculation in the northeast over the past two days? It's quite something! In advance of hurricane Sandy, consumers are... MORE

Indian Fertility: A Bet With John Nye

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
I think that bad economic policy, not "overpopulation," is India's main economic problem.  But whatever you think about the social effects of population growth, it's clear that Indian fertility is sharply declining.  I expect this rapid decline to continue, but... MORE

Optimizing Your Family Size in Real Time

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Someone recently asked me, "How should you decide how many kids to have?"  Since he'd already read Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, I thought he deserved a detailed step-by-step answer.  Here's roughly what I told him:Having kids is very... MORE

The Degree and Origin of Foreign Language Competence

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
If you're curious about the underlying numbers for my last post, here they are.  The table shows every logically possible combination of (a) how well people speak a foreign language and (b) where they learned the foreign language.  Percentages should... MORE

Savings, Genes, and Fade-Out

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Parenting often has large effects on the young.  Parents do stuff, their kids respond, and observers conclude that parenting is very important.  You need twin and adoption methods to uncover the crucial caveat: these parenting effects usually fade-out.  Kids aren't... MORE

My WSJ Review of Born Together - Reared Apart

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
My review of Nancy Segal's history of the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart is in Thursday's Wall St. Journal.  Highlights:Nancy Segal's "Born Together--Reared Apart" is a thorough history of the project and of the 137 pairs of star-crossed twins... MORE

If You Don't Like It

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Suppose your boss screams all the time, has extremely bad breath, or requires all his employees to speak in a faux British accent.  Even today, the law usually offers you no recourse - except, of course, for "If you don't... MORE

A Neglected Private Benefit of Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
One neglected lesson of Charles Murray's Coming Apart is that, due to changing family structure, the private return to education has risen even more than it seems.  In the 60s, rates of marriage and divorce barely varied by education level. ... MORE

The Freedom to Disown

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
[Warning: Downton Abbey spoiler near the end.]Once your children come of age, you are free to disown them.  A parent can financially and emotionally cut off his own children with legal impunity.  The children have the same right, but since... MORE

Does breast-feeding really give your kids a leg up in life?  It's an important question, and there's a lot of research on it.  But most of the research is, at best, moderately convincing.  The key weakness: If parents falsely believe... MORE

Wax's Behavioral Economics of the Family

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Scott Beaulier and I argue that behavioral economics explains a lot about poverty; indeed, the poor deviate from neoclassical assumptions to an unusually large degree.  Consider, for example, the fact that the poor are far more likely to be single,... MORE

Ideas Have Consequences, Valeria Edition

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Valeria Jacqueline Caplan, my first daughter, my fourth child, was born one day early yesterday.  Baby and mother are both doing very well.  As usual, I welcome my child's birth with a reading from the book of Julian Simon:One spring... MORE

Robin Channels Epicurus

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
The great Epicurus:Yet much worse still is the man who says it is good not to be born, but "once born make haste to pass the gates of Death." [Theognis, 427]  For if he says this from conviction why does... MORE

How "Ethically Risky" Is Creating a Life?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Today I appeared on Anthony Brooks' NPR show to discuss the ethics of having kids (audio now up).  Philosopher Christine Overall, my sparring partner, emphasized that having a child is "ethically risky."  Who knows what this child's life will be... MORE

The New Yorker on the Ethics of Fertility

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Elizabeth Kolbert has a fun piece on the ethics of fertility, featuring Christine Overall, David Benatar, and me.Kolbert on Overall:Of course, people do give reasons for having children, and Overall takes them up one by one. Consider the claim that... MORE

Weighing the Coerciveness of Marital Law

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I've been having an extended Twitter discussion about the history of women's liberty with Cato's Jason Kuznicki (@JasonKuznicki), the Atlantic's Megan McArdle (@asymmetricinfo), and others.  I find some of the issues hard to address in 140 characters, so I'm moving... MORE

All-Volunteer Matrimony

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The end of the draft is arguably the greatest policy success of libertarian economics.  Libertarians still have plenty of complaints about the U.S. military.  But libertarian complaints about the way the military treats its manpower have virtually ceased.  It's an... MORE

Losing Ground, The Bell Curve, and Coming Apart: A Reconciliation

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
During Arnold's video conference on Coming Apart, Brink Lindsey pointed out the curious fact that Charles Murray wrote three different books about poverty, each with a different explanation.*  Losing Ground says that the welfare state gives the poor perverse incentives. ... MORE

What Is the Female Marriage Penalty?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Married women earn less than single women.  In the NLSY, married women make 10% less, even after controlling for education, experience, IQ, race, and number of children.  How is this possible?As I explained in my post on the male marriage... MORE

What Is the Male Marriage Premium?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Married men make a lot more money than single men.  In the NLSY, married men make 44% extra, even after controlling for education, experience, IQ, race, and number of children.  How is this possible?There are three competing economic explanations.  Each... MORE

How Legal Is Free-Range Parenting?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Law professor and free-range dad David Pimentel carefully reviews the legality of free-range parenting.  Just one case:In State v. Hughes, a father was convicted in a bench trial for leaving his 5-year-old daughter in the air-conditioned cab of his pickup... MORE

The Orphan Not Adopted

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
From Dan Carroll, blogger and adoptive father of a former orphan from Ethiopia:The pattern of behavior from the US Department of State (DOS) is to shut down adoption programs from countries that do not participate in the Hague Convention for... MORE

Being Single Is a Luxury

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm baffled by people who blame declining marriage rates on poverty.  Why?  Because being single is more expensive than being married.  Picture two singles living separately.  If they marry, they sharply cut their total housing costs.  They cut the total... MORE

My Two Favorite Graphs From Coming Apart

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I have a predictably optimistic take on Charles Murray's Coming Apart.  But these two graphs did indeed shock me.  The first contrasts divorce rates for working class ("Fishtown") and professional ("Belmont") whites: Notice: Among professionals, divorce plateaued over three decades... MORE

For males, the college premium and the marriage premium are roughly equal.  In the NLSY, for example, you earn 34% more if you're a college grad, and 44% more if you're a married male*: When people - economists and non-economists... MORE

An Optimist's Take on Charles Murray's Coming Apart

Income Distribution
Bryan Caplan
On Friday, I read Charles Murray's new book, Coming Apart: The State of White American, 1960-2010, cover to cover.  Murray's given the world another social science page turner, written with earnest eloquence and full of fascinating information.  His main claim:... MORE

Patria, Parenti, Amici

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Patria, parenti, amici, Voi dunque non avete? Country, family, friends, Possess you none of them? -Giuseppe Verdi, RigolettoI'm a staunch opponent of nationalism.  But I'm also a family man.  Isn't there a direct contradiction between the two?  If I... MORE

Manski and Caplan

Family Economics
Arnold Kling
I just got around to reading Charles Manski on "Genes, Eyeglasses, and Social Policy." Manski is dismissive of heritability studies, and I am curious how Bryan would react, given the importance he places on heritability studies for his argument that... MORE

The Julian Simon Club

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
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... MORE

A Cursory Rejection of Anti-Natalism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Critics of my kids book occasionally argue that creating new life is, all else equal, morally questionable or objectionable, a position known to philosophers as anti-natalism.  The most extreme proponent of anti-natalism is probably David Benatar, author of Better Never... MORE

My Fourth Statement

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
When I was promoting Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, one of the most common questions I heard was, "Are you going to have any more?"  I always avoided a definite answer.  But now I'm pleased to announce that my... MORE

Poverty, Conscientiousness, and Broken Families

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Right-wingers should spend a lot more time reading left-wing ethnography of the poor.  It may seem strange, but when leftist social scientists actually talk to and observe the poor, they confirm the stereotypes of the harshest Victorian.  Poverty isn't about... MORE

The Rotten Spouse Theorem

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Even after a bitter divorce, people often pay their ex a compliment: "He was a bad husband, but he's always been a good father" or "She was a bad wife, but she's always been a good mother."  Gracious, yes.  But... MORE

Reflections on The Name of the Game

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Will Eisner might be the most influential graphic novelist of the 20th century.  Contrary to some, he didn't "invent the graphic novel," but his ouvre is awesome nonetheless.  Although I'm a big fan, I only recently discovered what might be... MORE

Are Twin Studies "Pretty Much Useless"?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
The latest Slate features a new critique of twin studies by Brian Palmer, entitled "Double Inanity: Twin Studies Are Pretty Much Useless."  Palmer starts with the standard guilt-by-association critique: Galton, the founder of twin studies, "coined the term 'eugenics' and... MORE

My Worst Parenting Mistake on Freakonomics

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Freakonomics features a quorum of economist-parents on the "worst parenting mistake they ever made."  My previously blogged position on parenthood and regret seemed to tie my hands, but I tried to wriggle out with careful choice of words:My closest thing... MORE

From David Friedman's essay "Laissez-Faire in Population: The Least Bad Solution" (1972):Additional evidence on consumer rationality can be found in secular fertility trends. Over the long term, the net cost of rearing children has been rising because of the movement... MORE

Supply, Demand, and the Rise of the Man-Child

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Consider a traditional society where all the men sell their labor and all the women keep house.  You might think there's only one market, but there are actually two: The labor market and the mating market.  Men use their wages... MORE

Breed Like Beckhams

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
Journalists usually love a good debate.  If there's one protectionist economist for every hundred free-traders, they'll still make an effort to "ask both sides."  A glaring exception: Today's piece in The Guardian on the Beckham's fertility.  The headline:Beckhams a "bad... MORE

Konner on Child Labor and Vain Dreams

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
More interesting stuff from Melvin Konner's The Evolution of Childhood:In the Six Cultures Study child rearing and behavior were measured among five farming and herding societies (in Kenya, the Phillipines, Japan, India, and Mexico) and a New England town... There... MORE

Perfectionist Parents: Perfect Yourself

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've got a question for perfectionist parents who strive to raise prodigies: Instead of pushing your kids to succeed, why don't you try to perfect yourself instead?  Why don't you start taking piano lessons for three hours a day?  Why... MORE

Genetic Determinism vs. Parental Irrelevantism

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I think that parents affect their kids in lots of ways.  Parents have big effects on religious affiliation and political party, small effects on many other traits, and a clear effect on the quality of the parent-child relationship.  And those... MORE

Caplan vs. Chua Debate in the Guardian

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Tiger Mother Amy Chua and I have this week's Saturday Conversation in The Guardian.  Highlights:BC: Most of my book is based on a summary of 40 years of adoption and twin studies - the usual result is parents just don't... MORE

Wolfers on Kids and Income

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Over at Freakonomics, Justin Wolfers has a data-intensive critique of my claim that kids are, appearances withstanding, normal goods.  This naturally makes me nervous.  Wolfers has a disconcerting habit of publicly correcting others.  If I had an unlimited budget, I'd... MORE

Kids Are Normal Goods for Both Genders

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} w\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} .shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);} Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} My Cato Unbound exchange with my... MORE

If I Could Ask Amy Chua One Question

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
If I could ask Amy Chua one question, I'd start by quoting two passages from Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  In Passage #1, Chua describes her in-laws' parenting style:As parents, Sy and Florence were determined to give their children... MORE

Murray and Marriage

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I had an interesting argument with Charles Murray at yesterday's Cato Book Forum.  While he expressed fundamental agreement with my views on nature and nurture, he thought parental marital status was an important exception.  Children of divorce do worse than... MORE

Just Say Yes

Family Economics
David Henderson
Bryan's "Yes Mom" post reminded me of a decision I made early in my daughter's life that was one of the best decisions I ever made. I had heard so many parents with teenagers and young adult children express their... MORE

Yes Mom

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Today I learned that I (partly) inspired a charming parenting experiment.  British journalist Lucy Cavendish:  There are various blogs and websites devoted to the notion that we should give our children free choice, and, in this way, encourage their development... MORE

Two Points on Kids and Happiness

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
My favorite parts from my Cato Unbound reply to Betsey Stevenson:2. My own research confirms Betsey's first key point: Higher-income and older parents have a smaller happiness deficit.  And she is correct to claim that these are precisely the parents... MORE

Posner and Becker on 10 Billion People

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Posner's a nervous optimist:But suppose world population will reach 10.1 billion by the end of this century. Would that be a good or a bad thing? Arguably a good thing, on several grounds. One is that it would enable greater... MORE

The Extra Burden of Childless Elders

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Contrary to popular opinion, it has always been rare for people to financially support their aged parents.  In earlier times, people died too soon to "collect their pension" from their kids.  Nowadays the elderly live long enough to collect, but... MORE

One More Reason to Thank Your Mom

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Two questions occur to me this Mother's Day:1. How many readers are here today because your dad pressured your mom to have you?  2. How many readers are here today because your mom pressured your dad to have you?It's hard... MORE

SRtHMK Reactions

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
My book's gotten a lot of feedback recently:1. Nicole Russell in the Washington Times:This isn't your average parenting book spouting psychologist-laden babble about the inner workings of the human psyche, inherent selfishness and bearing children. Rather, Mr. Caplan, an economics... MORE

Liberty, Population, and Cognitive Dissonance

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
My target essay at this month's Cato Unbound is up.  From the intro:People have been fretting about the "population problem" for at least fifty years. But over those five decades, the perceived problem has practically reversed. From the sixties to... MORE

Just Try It; or, Nudge for Kids

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
The media have run me ragged for the last two weeks.  But I'm not complaining; it's a great experience, and I'm learning as I go.  The single best point I've heard boils down to "nudge for kids."  It goes something... MORE

Of Kids and Kardashians

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Check out Steve Sailer's appreciative review of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids.  In many ways, we see eye to eye.  But passages like this show just how far apart we are.  Steve:Let me say that Caplan has written a... MORE

I'm looking for estimates of the PDV of a newborn American baby from the point of view of the consolidated government budget, a.k.a. the "fiscal externality" of a birth.  Other than Lee and Miller (1990), I'm not finding much.  Anything... MORE

WSJ Reviews SRtHMK

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
The Wall St. Journal likes my second book quite a bit more than my first:...Mr. Caplan is doing more than taunting the Tiger Mothers. He is making an economic argument. Analyzing scads of research on the effects of nature and... MORE

Nature, Nurture, and Me in the NYT

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Check out Motoko Rich's new piece on nature and nurture in the NYT.  Academics often complain that journalists treat them unfairly, but once again, that's not my experience.  Highlight: Professor Heckman pointed to research showing that moving children from bad... MORE

Live Chat Highlight: A 4-Minute Reply to Will

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Here's my favorite part from today's WSJ Live Chat:1:58 Allison Lichter:  On the Ideas Market blog, Will Wilkinson argues that your argument really only applies to a narrow range of people: middle-and-upper class couples whoalready have at least one child,are... MORE

WSJ Live Chat: SRtHMK Edition

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm doing a Wall St. Journal Live Chat today.  Got questions?  Submit them!... MORE

Carroll, Wilkinson, and Four Demand Curves

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
WSJ.com now features my target essay on my parental odyssey, replies by Laura Carroll and Will Wilkinson, and my replies to their replies.  I successfully suppressed my urge to send a bunch of demand curves to the WSJ.  But I... MORE

How Twin Research Changed My Life

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
My autobiographical essay, "How Twin Research Changed My Life," is now up at the Wall St. Journal's Idea Market.  They changed my title to "Twin Lessons: Have More Kids.  Pay Less Attention to Them," which isn't exactly my style or... MORE

Is Capitalism Pro-Kid?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm pro-capitalism and pro-kid, and I'd like the two to be complementary.  So I have to smile when Corinne Maier, author of No Kid: 40 Good Reasons Not To Have Children, blames capitalism (plus the French government) for high birth... MORE

Genetics, Politics, Culture, and the Future

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
On Facebook, I opined that boosting libertarians' Total Fertility Rate to 3 is the most realistic long-run path to liberty.  The underlying assumption is that political philosophy, libertarianism included, is fairly heritable.  Will Wilkinson then presented an interesting objection:Even if... MORE

Notes on Kauffman Bloggers Forum

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I watched live almost all of each morning presentation today. Some highlights: 1. Ben Wildavsky's point that when talent moves from country to country and back, it's not a brain drain. He had another good expression that I forgot to... MORE

Heritabilities Are Meaningful and Important

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
The punchline of most twin and adoption studies is an estimate of Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} a trait's "heritability." ... MORE

Rojas on Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Fabio Rojas, sociology professor at Indiana University and my best friend from UC Berkeley, reviews my new book at Orgtheory.  His more than fair intro:Though this book is written by an economist, it's not another cute-o-nomics pop text. It's a... MORE

Kids and Happiness: The Sweet and Sour Spot

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I've heard a wide variety of objections to my forthcoming book on kids.  But the thinkers I most respect usually argue that the empirical happiness research is my Achilles heel.  After all, they point out, the negative effect of kids... MORE

In one of my talks at the 2011 International Students for Liberty Conference, I argued that the my views on parenting and kids can and should enter the libertarian penumbra.  Yes, a perfectly good libertarian could believe that nurture is... MORE

Dude, Where's My Theory of Everything?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Almost all traits run in families.  But why?  People have literally debated the question for thousands of years.  Is the cause nature/heredity/genes, nurture/upbringing/parenting, or some mixture of the two?  Until a few decades ago, the debaters basically just chased their... MORE

Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids Website

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
My official book website, http://www.havemorekidsbook.com, is up.  If you've got suggestions for improvement, please share.... MORE

Jewish versus Chinese Parenting

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
A reader sent me this email reflecting on my critique of Amy Chua.  Reprinted anonymously with his permission:Dear Dr. Caplan,You speculate as to why Jews are, on average, successful, and as to whether or not parenting has anything to do... MORE

Gelman on Me, Chua, and Cowen

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Andrew Gelman's got an awfully interesting post on the contrast between me, Amy Chua, and Tyler Cowen.  He's certainly got my number, anyway: Without any personal knowledge of these people (well, I did meet Caplan once and gave him comments... MORE

The Grateful Tiger Daughter

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Unlike most critics of Tiger Mother Amy Chua, I expect her kids to turn out fine.  Why?  Because their genes come from two Yale professors, and contrary to Tiger Mother and her critics alike, upbringing has little long-run effect.  I... MORE

Dead Ends and Double Standards

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Many activities are Dead Ends.  Dead Ends have the following in common:1. They are extremely labor intensive.2. They attract extremely talented and dedicated people.  You have to be absolutely amazing just to be relatively average.3. Despite #1 and #2, Dead... MORE

The Tiger Mother versus Cost-Benefit Analysis

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
One of my favorite economists urged me to cut this passage from Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids:Before you do something for your child, try asking yourself three questions.1. Do I enjoy it?2. Does my child enjoy it?3. Are there... MORE

Me on Twitter, My New Book on Amazon

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
I'm now on Twitter as bryan_caplan.  For the first year or so, I'm going to use it to promote my views on kids and parenting, then see how things evolve.  My book on this subject, Selfish Reasons to Have More... MORE

Temptations to Cruelty

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
The most bizarre thing about Amy Chua's essay is that she combines contempt for drama with fanatical devotion to music.  School plays are too frivolous for words:[N]o Chinese kid would ever dare say to their mother, "I got a part... MORE

Does Asian Parenting Cause Asian Success?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Scholars familiar with twin and adoption research will be sorely tempted to summarily dismiss Yale Law professor Amy Chua's recent defense of Chinese parenting.  It's hard to find a stauncher defender of what Judith Harris called "the nurture assumption."  Chua:A... MORE

Asian Parenting Bleg

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Are there any genetically informed studies of the effects of Asian parenting?  Google Scholar has zero hits for the union of "Asian parenting" and "shared environment."  And in all my years of reading this literature, I can't recall a single... MORE

Darwinian Heroism in History

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Contraception is a common challenge to evolutionary psychology.  Why on earth would evolution lead us to try to have fewer children than we can?  In The Moral Animal, Robert Wright provides the standard evolutionary psych response:[N]atural selection's primary means of... MORE

I finally read Robert Wright's modern classic The Moral Animal.  I've got lots to say, but let me start with a simple puzzle I never noticed before.  Evolutionary psychology has a simple explanation for why men value women's youth far... MORE

The Weird Reason to Have More Kids

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Think of a trait that brings people together.  It could be jokiness, religiosity, libertarianism, love of books, or fascination with role-playing games - or seriousness, impiety, statism, hatred of books, or contempt for role-playing games.  Take your pick.  Now suppose... MORE

In Defense of Supernanny

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I discovered Supernanny when my sons were infants.  I watched in disbelief when Jo Frost reformed monstrous children simply by putting them in "the naughty corner."  But once our infants became toddlers, we gave the naughty corner a try.  To... MORE

The Science of Success

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} My editor at Die Welt Am Sonntag just gave me permission to share the... MORE

Ich Auf Deutsch

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Die Welt Am Sonntag ran my first German-language article a couple weeks ago.  It's an original piece, written by me in English, and translated by their staff.  Some highlights in English: Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table... MORE

Television Defended

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
My colleague Russ Robert's not impressed by my claim that T.V. is great for the family.  My three main arguments, to refresh your memory:1. Television is fun.  I don't want my son to miss out on one of life's great... MORE

Why T.V. is Great for the Family

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday my baby acquired a valuable life skill: He learned how to watch television.  I'm thrilled for at least three reasons:1. Television is fun.  I don't want my son to miss out on one of life's great pleasures.2. Television is... MORE

Of Infants and Immigrants

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
If an additional infant born in America has positive externalities, asks Adam Ozimek, shouldn't an additional immigrant who moves to America have positive externalities, too?Since the average immigrant age is around 30, that means when they've arrived they are already... MORE

Good Baby

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
The Kauffman Foundation's Tim Kane generously included one of my questions on the latest quarterly econ blogger's survey:The net externality of the birth of an additional child in the United States is... [POSITIVE, ZERO, or NEGATIVE]Survey says: I suspect that... MORE

Baby Fever

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
According to conventional wisdom, women want kids more than men.  But when you start looking at the data, conventional wisdom doesn't seem to check out.  Country by country, men and women desire almost exactly the same number of kids.  Kids... MORE

Parents and Peer Pressure Revisited

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
About a year ago, Robin and I disagreed about the importance of parental peer pressure.  I said:Robin's functionalist account: It assumes that other parents care about your parenting far more than they actually do.  In reality, most parents are too... MORE

A Noble Nobel for Medicine

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Robert Edwards, IVF/"test-tube baby" pioneer, has won the Nobel Prize in Medicine.  From the official press release:As early as the 1950s, Edwards had the vision that IVF could be useful as a treatment for infertility. He worked systematically to realize... MORE

Boaz Teaches Virtue to Social Conservatives

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Cato's David Boaz tries to show social conservatives the path of virtue:Those are reasonable concerns, but they have little or no relationship to abortion or gay marriage. Abortion may be a moral crime, but it isn't the cause of high... MORE

Since there's a lot of interest in my case against high-IQ misanthropy, here's a fuller discussion from Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids:You Don't Have to Raise the Average to Pull Your Weight        Eighty percent of success is showing... MORE

I just emailed the final version of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids to Basic Books.  Without Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times... MORE

Thank You IVF, Friedman Family Edition

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Several friends have advised me to tone down my book's trenchant defense of assisted reproductive technology.  Patri Friedman's just given me another reason to stand my ground: We are delighted to announce the birth of Iselle Rose Friedman early this... MORE

Discipline: Advice and Evidence

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Here's an excerpt on discipline (plus academic references) from Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids.  If parents want a happier life, they need to rethink the justification for discipline. The welfare of the child is one legitimate goal.  If your... MORE

Bill and Robin's Not So Excellent Hypothesis

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Robin explains a new theory of falling fertility that he cooked up with Bill Dickens on the road back from GenCon:The key idea: farming pressures strengthened a fem forager tendency to, when personally richer, invest more energy in pursuing status,... MORE

Education, especially female education, seems to reduce fertility.  Economists standard explanation is that women's foregone earnings are the leading cost of children.  If you raise women's education, you raise their potential income; and as you raise their potential income, you... MORE

First They Separated the Twins...

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I staunchly oppose putting twins in separate classrooms when they prefer to be together.  As I explained before:Sure, if you separate twins, they'll make more friends.  But that hardly means you're doing them a favor.  The reason why twins put... MORE

Baiting Bryan

Family Economics
Arnold Kling
Two from the Washington Post. 1. Kathleen Parker writes, By large percentages, the sperm-donor children suffered more depression, delinquency and substance abuse than children who were adopted or raised in a home with their two natural parents. See also Bruce... MORE

My Father's Day Essay for the WSJ

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
My Father's Day essay for the Wall St. Journal is now up, and I've got EconLog readers to thank.  You've been a great sounding board for all the main arguments about family economics I've been stockpiling over the last five... MORE

Libertarian Nurture? The Case of the Paul Family

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
The NYT has a fun story on how Ron Paul raised Rand Paul:In keeping with their position as the First Family of Libertarianism, the Pauls of Lake Jackson, Tex., did not have many rules around their home. "Behave yourself and... MORE

The evidence on nature, nurture, and sexual orientation just got a lot better.  (For earlier discussion, see here, here, and here).  Gene Expression summarizes the latest evidence:Three recent twin studies have largely overcome previous methodological issues, demonstrate clear genetic influences... MORE

Partners and Liberty

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Assortative mating increases family resemblance.  Given my interest in strategic libertarian fertility, then, this suggests another survey question:If you self-identify as a libertarian, please let me know if your spouse/ significant other does as well.Please share.  My answer is in... MORE

How Liberty Runs in Families (I Think)

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Thanks to everyone who responded to my Zac Gochenour-inspired poll on parents, children, and libertarianism.  Most of the responses seem consistent with Zac's initial doubts: I'm trying to determine if "strategic fertility" is nonsense or not. I find it one... MORE

Parents, Children, and Liberty

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
One crucial assumption behind strategic libertarian fertility is that the viewpoint actually runs in families.  Incoming GMU Ph.D. student Zac Gochenour's skeptical.  On Facebook, he posed the following questions: [1] If you self-identify as libertarian, please let me know if... MORE

In response to my recent reflections on liberty in the long-run, Patri Friedman defends seasteading over strategic fertility:As an avowed natalist, I am certainly not going to object to advocating for libertarians to have more kids.  I would love libertarians... MORE

Choosing the Right Neighborhood

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
To me, it's obvious that parents often choose neighborhoods in order to affect their kids' long-run outcomes.  True, they rarely wake up in the morning and say, "Let's move to a higher-income neighborhood to boost Billy's adult income."  But when... MORE

Marriage and Inequality

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Richard Fry and D'Vera Cohn write, In 2007, median household incomes of three groups -- married men, married women and unmarried women -- were about 60% higher than those of their counterparts in 1970. But for a fourth group, unmarried... MORE

The Economic Philosophy of Child Abuse

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
When is loss of custody a morally acceptable response to child abuse?  To clarify the issue, assume (a) the child is too young to express a preference; and (b) the decision-maker faithfully but fallibly follows whatever standard you pick.Then consider... MORE

Happy Mother's Day: EconLog Edition

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
The sections based on "Parenthood As the Trump of all Past Regret" and "The Lorelai Paradox" might not make the final cut in Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, but these two posts are still among my favorites.  Happy Mother's... MORE

The (Potential) Enemies List: Two Thoughts

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Thanks for all your comments on my "enemies list."  Two thoughts:1. Many thanks to Sam for pointing out Luis Angeles' retraction.  Since the thrust of my discussion of kids and happiness is that the observed effect is negative but small,... MORE

The (Potential) Enemies List

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I expect Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids to be controversial.  In fact, I think it will have enemies.  I'm going to stick to my policy of unilateral friendliness, but I'd still like to improve my forecast of who's going... MORE

Cloning for Kids

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
A reader sent me this funny and touching snapshot from a children's book about cloning.  I wonder if the complete book really exists?Update: The book doesn't exist; it was part of a Wired piece about children's books of the future.... MORE

Goaded

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm touched to see Tyler publicly defending me and my clone, and think I ought to respond to his only reservation:If I have any criticism of Bryan, it's that he's pro-natalist (fine in my book) but I've never heard him... MORE

To Cut or Not to Cut?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
When I was finishing up The Myth of the Rational Voter, I weighed whether I should cut the paragraph on restricting the franchise: But what -- if anything -- can be done to improve outcomes, taking the supremacy of democracy... MORE

Bad Predictions, Durant Edition

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
As Niels Bohr remarked, "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future."  Here's a 1968 howler from the Durants' The Lessons of History:In the United States the lower birth rate of the Anglo-Saxons has lessened their economic and political power;... MORE

Nurture and Orientation Reconsidered

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
A couple days ago, I mentioned that gays' adopted siblings are gay at six times the normal rate - and called this finding a "smoking gun" proving that family environment has a modest effect on sexual orientation.  This finding has... MORE

Nature, Nurture, and Orientation

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
My take from Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids:Parents have a small effect on sexual orientation. Psychologists used to label homosexuality a "mental illness" caused by overprotective mothers and distant fathers.[i]  Now we tend to see sexual orientation as a... MORE

Born Gay?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Ryan Sorba, author of The "Born Gay" Hoax, was recently booed at the CPAC convention.  Since I recently read all of the main twin and adoption studies of sexual orientation, I wondered what he had to say.  He focuses on... MORE

Ignoring: There Is Such a Thing As Free Sleep

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
New parents' number one complaint has got to be sleep deprivation.  When you've got a newborn, some disruption is inevitable.  But parents' sleep often suffers for years.  I'm pleased to report, then, that children's sleeping problems (and therefore parents' sleeping... MORE

Karacter: From the Cutting-Room Floor

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've very fond of this passage from Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, but Alex Tabarrok suggested a much more accessible substitute - Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue." In 1997, the Dutch movie Karacter won the Oscar for Best... MORE

Why Is An Economist Writing This Book?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
In the Preface of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, should I explicitly address the question, "Why would an economist write this book?"?Pro: I could talk about how I come out of GMU's wide-ranging, inter-disciplinary, blog-friendly approach to econ.  It's... MORE

Implausible Wimps: A Reply to Hara Marano

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm not a big fan of Hara Marano's A Nation of Wimps.  While I agree that overparenting is silly, I recently complained that she "implausibly claim[s] that overparenting does long-term harm to children by infantilizing them."  Marano kindly responds in... MORE

Gender Imbalances and Growth Reconsidered

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Most people oppose polygamy out of intolerance, but many social scientists offer a deeper objection: Polygamy simulates the allegedly awful social effects of high male/female ratios.  Arnold's particularly worried:If it were not for monogamy, the competition among males for females... MORE

I Loved Free-Range Kids

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
While writing Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, I've been reading a lot of popular parenting books.  I'm pleased to report that I finally found one that I love: Lenore Skenazy's Free-Range Kids.  Most of the competition tries to be... MORE

Pregnancy Substitutes and Economic Growth

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
In the U.S., the all-inclusive cost of a surrogate pregnancy (including the surrogate's fee, in vitro costs, medical expenses, brokers' fees, etc.) is $75,000+.  But you can save a bundle by going to India, the growing world capital of fertility... MORE

Human Sex Ratio Doesn't Run in Families

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I have three children, all sons.  On a gut level, I feel like there's a systematic factor at work.  It must be my overpowering machismo, right?  But it looks like my gut is dead wrong.  At least in the NLSY,... MORE

When I praised the growing division of maternal labor, the supposed reductio ad absurdum of baby selling came up.  My reply:I see nothing wrong with selling your baby - born or unborn - to loving parents.Until recently, though, I didn't... MORE

Respect Me

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
The official theory of the holidays is that they're a time for families to have a good time together.  Unfortunately, the practice falls far short of the theory.  Many people dread the holidays, because they feel obliged to spend a... MORE

"No Frills" IVF in Africa

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Greg Clark's not gonna like this:Poor and war-torn, Sudan might be the last place you would expect to find an experiment in cutting-edge fertility treatments. But by the end of October, a clinic at the University of Khartoum plans to... MORE

The first surrogate mother contracts outraged the public.  Now, almost no one cares - except the satisfied parties to these mutually advantageous arrangements.  What happened?  Elizabeth Scott of Columbia Law School has a thought-provoking story to tell, with a strong,... MORE

Robin Gets Functionalist, As Predicted

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
After asking, "Why do parents forget what it's like to be a kid?," I remarked:Many parents really do forget what's it's like to be a kid...I honestly don't know why.  I bet Robin Hanson would have a clever functionalist story. ... MORE

Lately my twins and I have been enjoying the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.  I don't think it's a spoiler to say that Mr and Mrs. Heffley, the mom and dad in these stories, seem totally clueless.  My kids... MORE

Hasty readers of happiness research often conclude that kids are a disaster for happiness.  If you actually look at the size as well as the sign of standard estimates, however, the right conclusion is that kids ever-so-slightly reduce happiness.  I... MORE

Bequest Question

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
According to "mistake" theories of inheritance, people leave bequests because they don't have enough information to spend all their assets before they die.Question: In a world with annuities and negative mortgages, how can anyone continue to believe this story?... MORE

Getting Your Storks in a Row

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Last week I read all the major research on the response of fertility to economic incentives.  There are actually two distinct literatures.  The first focuses on the effect of intentional "birth subsidies" on child-bearing.  The second focuses on the unintentional... MORE

Why Doesn't Parenting Affect Fertility?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Twin and kinship studies find that parenting has little influence on fertility.*  While there is some family resemblance - big and small families run in families - heredity accounts for all or almost all of it.  This is a little... MORE

Chabon's Unkindest Cut

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I strongly oppose circumcision.  In fact, I can't think of a good reason why we shouldn't punish it as child abuse.  Whether or not you agree with my conclusion, I think it's hard to deny the following claim: Unless you... MORE

The Decline of the Rabbit Strategy

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
From chapter 5 of the first draft of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: When I was a kid, people often accused others of "breeding like rabbits."  If you know much about rabbits, it's not a pretty picture: Rabbits get... MORE

Number of google hits for "childfree": 1,350,000.Number of google hits for "grandchildfree": 2,380.... MORE

Family, Transfers, Pride, and Shame

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Contrary to popular belief, the elderly financially support their kids, rather than the other way around.  This was true in hunter-gatherer and peasant societies.  A neat piece in the JEP shows that it was also true in the U.S. in... MORE

Living With Your Parents

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
A striking passage from "Intergenerational Transfers and Inheritance":[A] large and growing difference exists between Germany and Italy in rates of coresidence of young adults with their parents.  In Italy, 50% of young women and 70% of young men still live... MORE

Was Having Kids Ever a Paying Venture?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
One popular story about the decline in family size over the last two centuries goes like this: Back in the old days, having kids paid.  Children started working when they were quite young, and provided for their parents in their... MORE

A Guess and a Test

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
From Will Wilkinson, in a 100+ comment discussion at Overcoming Bias:I would guess that number of children is negatively correlated to number of sexual partners.According to the General Social Survey, Will's guess is... correct!  The correlation between number of children... MORE

Some people sincerely like monogamy; other people sincerely don't.  Under the circumstances, it seems wise for everyone to just reveal their proclivities and pair up with people who share their expectations.  Unfortunately, I don't see this happening.  There is a... MORE

Monogamy and Heterogeneity

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
One thing I've learned from seminars: Preferences are almost unimaginably heterogeneous.  During a presentation, I'll be thinking, "No one will like this paper."  Then lo and behold, this paper has three ardent defenders.  And this is the harmonious, genteel GMU... MORE

Windbags and Modernity

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
During my many recent hours at the neonatal ward, I've finished Gary Becker's A Treatise on the Family.  The last chapter is the best, particularly his analysis of the decline of respect for the elderly:Older persons are held in esteem... MORE

Ideas Have Consequences: SRHMK Edition

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Simon Nicolas Caplan, my third son, was born this morning.  Mother, baby, and father are all doing well.Besides the usual suspects, I'd like to thank the late great Julian Simon for putting me on my natalist path.  Almost as soon... MORE

Modernity as a Children's Paradise

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
If you based your worldview on fictional television programs, you would conclude that life was a lot better for kids back in the fifties.  Nothing seriously bad ever happens to kids on Leave It to Beaver.  But on shows like... MORE

The Lens of Hypergamy: An Application

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Last year, Tyler named "hypergamy" his word of the day.  He called the source "evil," but the Evil One's explanation is admirably elegant:It is sometimes said that men are polygamous and women monogamous...It would be more accurate to say that... MORE

America vs. Japan: Where Is It Better for Kids?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
In the U.S., 40% of babies are now born out of wedlock.  In Japan, only 2% are.  Clearly, then, it's better to be a baby in Japan than America, right?  For all my skepticism about nurture effects, I'm tempted to... MORE

Behaviorial Geneticists versus Policy Implications

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
In most disciplines, experts oversell their ability to give useful policy advice.  In behavioral genetics, however, experts strangely undersell their ability to give useful policy advice.  Here's a striking passage from Plomin, DeFries, McClearn, and McGuffin's leading behavioral genetics textbook:The... MORE

The Parental Wish List: What's Missing?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
What is the point of raising kids?  On my view, the point is basically consumption.  Creating life and watching it grow is a fascinating and rewarding journey.  For many parents, though, the main point is actually investment: Taking little savages... MORE

When I tell parents that twin and adoption studies find small effects of nurture, they often respond, "That's OK.  I'm willing to make a big sacrifice to help my kids a small amount."Frankly, it's not clear what these parents have... MORE

Can Billions of Parents Be Wrong?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
In the comments, Gary asks the $10,000 question:Bryan, I'm mostly on board with Judith Harris's hypothesis, but one thing bothers me: why do parents believe so strongly that they can influence their children? Perhaps parents' intense efforts at influencing their... MORE

Do Parents Affect How Long You Live?

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Parents - especially moms - spend a lot of time nagging their kids to eat right, get some fresh air and exercise, not smoke, etc.  If nagging changed behavior, and there is some validity to popular perceptions about "what's healthy,"... MORE

From the Preface of My Next Book

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Who This Book Is For When I tell people that I'm writing a book called Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, the most common response is, "Because they'll take care of you in your old age?"  Now's a good... MORE

Harris: The Postcard Version

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
For clarification, I sent Judy Harris one last email:Me: One last question.  Are the following two propositions a correct summary of your view? 1. Shared *family* environment has virtually no effect on personality or outcomes (income, education, health, etc.). AND... MORE

A Conversation With Judy Harris

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
[My apologies for formatting problems. Let me know if this still doesn’t look right. - B.C.] Since there was some disagreement about whether I was correctly interpreting Judy Harris‘  The Nurture Assumption, I decided to go straight to the source. ... MORE

My favorite section in Ellen Galinsky's Ask the Children has children separately grade (A, B, C, D, or F) their moms and dads in twelve areas:1. Being there for me when I am sick?2. Raising me with good values?3. Making... MORE

Behavioral Genetics and the Single Economist

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
In The Limits of Family Influence, David Rowe summarizes some evidence on spousal resemblance:[H]igh spousal correlation coefficients did not appear to be the result of social influence in the marriage; people who had been married a long time were not... MORE

Here's the conclusion of Daniel Akst's Wall St. Journal review of Parentonomics: It's a pity that Mr. Gans misses the chance to cover the most interesting question an economist might address in the parenting arena: Why he decided to have... MORE

Sacerdote Replies

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Bruce Sacerdote has graciously agreed to let me post this reply to my last post.  Here's Bruce:Dear Bryan, thanks for the heads up! I am perfectly happy with your description. I would make two key points. First, my effects are... MORE

Adjective-Coefficient Disconnect in Sacerdote

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I'm now writing chapter 3 of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, entitled "Que SerĂ¡, SerĂ¡: The Case for Guilt-Free Parenting."  It's basically a parents' eye guide to behavioral genetics.  As a result, I'm now reading and/or re-reading a bunch... MORE

Indirect Effects of the Laissez-Faire Family?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Steve Sailer posted an interesting comment on my critique of Love and Economics: Sure, but you're missing the point about how laissez-faire families affect the genes that children wind up with. Identical twin Jane marries a boring guy with a... MORE

Why People Hate the Octomom

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I assumed it was mostly anti-population Greens, but on closer examination the main haters seem to be fiscal conservatives.  But if she gets her own reality show and makes millions, will they withdraw their complaints?  Critics might respond that Octomom... MORE

Parents habitually try to influence what their kids eat.  "Eat up."  "Clean your plate."  "No dessert until you finish your vegetables."  "Soda?  No, you get milk."  At least in the modern U.S., parents' main goals seem to be to (a)... MORE

In 1975, Ann Landers famously reported that 70% of parents had buyer's remorse: If they had their lives to live over against, they wouldn't have kids.  Landers' study subsequently made it into some statistics lectures as an illustration of the... MORE

Having More Kids: Don't Ask, Do Tell

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
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 -... MORE

The Charge of Creepiness

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
CK, an EconLog reader, writes:I find your obsession with the topic of people's personal choices to be deeply creepy. Also, the fact that your starting point is that they are in error is a textbook example of bad logic, e.g.,... MORE

In my experience, virtually the only reason why people don't want more kids is that they don't feel like spending any more time on childcare.  The strictly financial cost of another child almost never comes up.  Granted, I greatly oversample... MORE

Me in the Chronicle: Free Version

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
If you had trouble reading my piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education, here's an ungated version.... MORE

Me in the Chronicle of Higher Education

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
My editorial on parenting has finally appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  In it, I summarize some big results from time diary studies (Parental effort has risen sharply in the last few decades) and behavioral genetics (The long-run effect... MORE

Who Are These People?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
During this holiday season, you may have enjoyed reconnecting with your extended family.  But many people have a different reaction.  After yet another unpleasant holiday meal, they shake their heads, and silently ask themselves, "Who are these people?"  Where else... MORE

Cold Spouses

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've previously argued that the avoidance of spousal scorn is one of the main reasons why we buy insurance, and pointed out our lack of sympathy for men.  But nothing prepared me for this piece on cryonics and the family:One... MORE

I humbly submit that The Painted Veil contains the most amazing scene of gender conflict ever filmed.  Watch the scene on Youtube, and tell me I'm wrong - and give your alternate selection while you're at it.  While you're watching... MORE

The Lorelai Paradox

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Last night my wife and I finished the final episode of the final season of Gilmore Girls.  If you haven't heard of it, it's a dramedy about a free-spirited single mom, Lorelai, and her studious daughter, Rory.  Since they're only... MORE

Nudging Marriage

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
If you think that Nudge doesn't matter, take a look at marriage. Only 5-10% of marriages have prenups; everyone else goes with the "default option" - the family law of the state in which they reside. Why do people go... MORE

Kids, Opera, and Local Status

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Rich families are once again having lots of kids (see here, here, and here). From Time:While 34.3% of married women ages 40 to 44 had four or more children in 1976, only 11.5% did in 2004, according to the Current... MORE

The Demand for Ectogenesis

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Ectogenesis basically means the creation of new human life without pregnancy. Instead of incubating the fetus in a mother's womb, there'd be an artificial incubation tank. Prospective parents would go through the first stages of in vitro fertilization; but instead... MORE

Does Parental Divorce Cause Offspring Divorce?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Children of divorce are more likely to eventually get divorced themselves. But why? Earlier behavioral genetic work concluded that, contrary to popular platitudes, the transmission mechanism is heredity, not environment. As Judith Harris put it:A twin study of 1500 pairs... MORE

Department of Yay: The American Baby Boomlet

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
To counter Tyler's "Department of Yikes" series, I'm officially inaugurating my "Department of Yay." First in my series: The American baby boomlet. Thanks in part to Hispanic immigrants, the U.S. has rebounded to replacement rate fertility. Today's USA Today has... MORE

Sacerdote, Feyrer, Kids, and Gender Conflict

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Sacerdote and Feyrer have an intriguing new paper on fertility. Background: Some rich countries - including Japan, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Greece - have extremely low fertility, while others - including the U.S., Sweden, and France - are only moderately... MORE

What About Pets?

Family Economics
Arnold Kling
Jonathan Guryan, Erik Hurst, and Melissa S. Kearney find that time spent taking care of children is positively correlated with education. They write, We offer four possible explanations for why child care patterns by education differ from the leisure and... MORE

Population Projection Tool

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
If you want to play around with the U.N.'s four main population projection methods, you can do so here. If you use the Constant-Fertility Variant - which seems the most reasonable of the four for developed countries - the numbers... MORE

Eric Turkheimer's CV

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Reading Eric Turkheimer's CV gives me the uncomfortable feeling that I've fallen behind the research frontier in behavioral genetics. Just in the last few years, he's published dozens of careful papers (almost all available ungated from his webpage) that challenge... MORE

Tyler already blogged the best sentences from this excellent piece on population decline. So I've decided to supply a complement: A brief critique of U.N. population projections. Ben Wattenberg explains that the U.N.'s World Population Prospects gives four basic projections:... MORE

Heckman on Inequality

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
James Heckman writes, Family environments of young children are major predictors of cognitive and socioemotional abilities, as well as a variety of outcomes such as crime and health. ...Family environments in the U.S. and many other countries around the world... MORE

Gary Becker on Soaring Consumer Credit

Family Economics
Arnold Kling
He writes, Obviously, some individuals borrow too much, and get caught in a spiral of high interest rate payments, bankruptcy, and insufficient assets as they age. Nevertheless, on the whole the growth of credit instruments available to consumers has been... MORE

Parenthood as the Trump of All Past Regret

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I don't regret anything in my life prior to the conception of my sons. This may sound like sentimental nonsense, but I tell you it's true. Here's my argument: 1. Basic biology: A man produces hundreds of millions of sperm... MORE

The Persistence of Rebellion

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
What was your biggest act of rebellion against your parents? Did your rebellion last? I'll start: For me, it was becoming an atheist, and refusing to attend church (starting at age 16). The rebellion lasts to this day. How about... MORE

Public Opinion About Fetal Testing

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
If you're having a high-risk pregnancy, it's pretty obvious that you'll be more likely to have your fetus tested for birth defects and other problems. But is risk the only factor that predicts demand for fetal testing? Nope. Here's an... MORE

Jolie on Pregnancy: Do You Believe Her?

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Angelina Jolie has more than enough money to make most of the downside of kids disappear. But now that she's pregnant with twins, all her money won't save her. Her reaction:"It makes me feel that all the things about my... MORE

Listen to the Children

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Here's a deeply important passage from my favorite survey of the time diary literature:One of Galinsky's more surprising findings centered around a question she posed to both children and parents: "If you were granted one wish to change the way... MORE

Correction: Men, Women, Kids, and Happiness

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
After blogging this...If you look at the data - the same GSS data you favorably cite - you'll see that kids usually have a smaller negative effect on the happiness of moms than the happiness of dads. The natural inference... MORE

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