The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Having Children and Happiness

Bryan Caplan just recently released his book Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, and the Wall Street Journal is discussing the research about how having children tends to reduce self-reported happiness among couples. Tough debate.

I remember when I first told my parents about the research showing that having children made parents less happy and their response was not, "Well, god dammit boy, then you better appreciate what me and your mother have done for you!" My dad actually said that he was skeptical of the research and said it might not really capture the full benefits and satisfaction of children. One way to think about it might be to compare it to a big project you're doing or have done, like say writing a book, building a company, doing a huge research project, working on a dissertation (what I'm doing right now). The process itself might not be terribly satisfying in itself, since it can involve stress, long hours, lost sleep, and so on, but the finished product is very satisfying. Whether the satisfaction received from the finished product really makes up for all the unpleasantness of the hard work (if one wanted to approach it in a Utilitarian way) is an unanswerable question, but certainly many people think that it does. So, I guess the question that isn't being asked is, "which couples are happier, those in middle-age and above with adult-age kids or those in middle-age and above that never had kids?"

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