Wealth is Weird

I've got a blog post-length comment on this post by Jonathan Wilde over at Catallarchy. This is what you get today.
I've got all sorts of interesting things stored up to report on & ruminate about. Gruter Institute conference on the values of the free enterprise system. AEI conference on neuro-morality. Drinks with Pinker. Hannah & Martin. Perhaps tomorrow, should I have world enough, and time (but if we're tearing our pleasures with rough strife thorough the iron gates of life, then forget it.)

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center

3 thoughts

  1. I don’t think there is any special problem with quantifying the value that people put on having children. You add up the values of the various things they give up in order to have children (income, leisure time, health, and so on) just like you would for any other good.
    The problem here is just that a lot of people say that children pay off in terms of happiness, but happiness research isn’t showing that. Perhaps this is because a lot of people have false expectations about what will make them happy (often the case). However, it also might be that a lot of people are using the term ‘happiness’ in a different way to happiness researchers (also often the case).
    That would explain all the hand waving about ‘meaning’. The hand wavers are really trying to say “well you might not get *that* kind of happiness out of having children, but there are still lots of other good things you get.”
    Meanwhile I’m curious about an entirely different point. Presumably we are all down with the idea that more money will make us happier. And we know that having children involves taking a huge financial hit. And apparently having children turns out to be a wash in terms of happiness, or perhaps a slight negative. Doesn’t it follow that, ceteris paribus, having children will make you happier? It has to be adding enough happiness (perhaps nearly) make up for the huge financial loss.

  2. What is all of this about? Why does any of this matter? Why should anyone have a problem with people wanting to study how often certain actions bring more happiness on the one hand, and on the other, why should we doubt a person who reports deriving happiness or a valued type of meaning from parenting or any other activity? Is this all just about natalist policies? If we concede that point, is there any issue here whatsoever?

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