The Bookshelf: Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids

I previously mentioned that I was reading Bryan Caplan’s Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids. Having now completed reading the book, here’s the review.

The book is a pro-natalist book arguing that your self-interest should lead you to have more children, that having kids should be easier than you think, and that you’re parenting style is not really going to affect your children’s long-term outcomes.

The book is written in a typical popular economics manner: a light-hearted tone, but keen on being technically accurate and precise. It’s very readable and simplifies the issues and studies to be understandable to all. The arguments are well-supported by scientific studies, common-sense, and coherent logical arguments. THe Overall, it’s a well-written book.

As for content, the book is divided into eight chapters and is fairly short at less than 200 pages (238 pages if you include references and indices).

The first chapter argues that the parent’s happiness counts too and that a parent should lessen their own parental workload for their own benefit (and their family’s).

The second chapter shows very clearly that, as long as you are a typical first world parent, your method of parenting has no real long-term effect on your children’s futures and you should not feel guilty about lessening your workload.

Having demonstrated that your parenting has no long-term effect on your children’s future, the third chapter lays out how this should practically effect your family life.

The fourth chapter attacks the notion that society is more dangerous for children now than and the past, and shows clearly that kids are safer than they have ever been.

The fifth chapter argues that if you fully look at the long-term consequences of having children, you will have more than you currently have, because you overestimate the work of children in the near future and underestimate the value of children when you are older.

The sixth chapter argues that, contrary to the arguments of the over-population crowd, more children are not bad for the world, rather a larger population and more children are a positive benefit for the world.

The seventh chapter gives some tips for increasing the number of grandchildren you have.

The eighth chapter talks up the benefits of fertility technology.

The ninth chapter and final chapter is Caplan’s clarifications and responses to common hesitations and counter-arguments presented in a dialog format.

Overall, I would recommend reading this book. The subject matter is interesting, the book is well written, the arguments are clear and persuasive, and more information on one of the most important decisions in your life is always a good thing.


If you’re married, plan to marry, have kids, or are considering having kids, I would fully recommend you read this book so you can make family decisions with accurate knowledge.

If you never plan to get married and/or have children, this book will may not be relevant to you, so you may not want to read it. You may still want to read it if you are interested in natalism or family issues or simply to consider (re)evaluate the long-term impacts of your choices.

3 responses to “The Bookshelf: Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids

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