My Fourth Statement

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 wife and I are expecting our fourth child, a baby girl, in April. She'll be named Valeria, middle name TBD (though I'm partial to Ayn and Fanya).

Back in the Baby Boom, having four kids was roughly average. But nowadays, it verges on counter-cultural. As Jonathan Last observes, "When you meet couples with more than three children today, chances are they're making a cultural and theological statement." I'm irreligious, but Last still has my number. I am indeed making a cultural statement. Having lots of kids is my way of saying all of the following:

1. People should feel grateful to be alive - and people who give the gift of life do a great thing.

2. People in the First World today should be incredibly grateful to be alive; they have a golden opportunity to build a joyful life free of mankind's historic troubles. (Corollary: People should take most of the energy they spend on complaining and reallocate it to self-improvement).

3. More people make the world a better place. Our culture greatly overblows the social costs of population - especially on the environment - and severely neglects the social benefits - especially on innovation and choice.

4. Parents' most meaningful effect is on their kids' appreciation - how their kids feel about and remember them. The key to being a great parent isn't sacrifice and suffering on your kids' behalf. It's treating them with kindness and respect, and having fun together.

5. Parental sacrifice and suffering are usually a waste of time in any case. At least in the modern First World, your kids' future depends primarily on their genes and their free will, not your "investment." (Corollary: Our four kids will be roughly as successful in school and work as they would have been if they were only children who enjoyed our undivided time and resources).

6. You can have the pride and joy of being a parent without losing the pride and joy of being an individual. While many parents would work themselves to death taking care of four kids, there's no reason to do so.

7. Kids are cute and fun. Especially my kids.

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