Bryan Caplan, the Un-Tiger Mom

by Maggie Gallagher

George Mason economics professor Bryan Caplan is the un-Tiger Mom. In his new book, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think (Basic Books, 2011), he draws on his experience in twins research — and as the father of twins — to advise young folks: “Have more kids. Pay less attention to them. Have more fun.”

. . . Eventually I noticed that twin research had another, far less obvious lesson for parents: Have more kids. When you ask high-effort parents if they want another child, the thought often frightens them. They’re already tired and stressed from the kids they’ve got; how could they endure the sacrifices required to raise one more? I reversed this argument. Others’ belief in the power of nurture made them reluctant to have more kids. My disbelief in the power of nurture, by the same logic, made me eager to have more kids.

Parents who don’t take twin research seriously are “overcharging” themselves for every child—not financially, but emotionally. The blatant lesson of twin research is to stop overcharging yourself. Its subtle lesson is to rethink the number of children you want to have. When you learn that something you want is cheaper than you thought, both common sense and basic economics tell you to buy more.

The Corner

The one and only.