Accounting for Children

Let me emphasize that I’m not trying to discourage anyone from having kids, or another kid. I’m just really genuinely interested in the real net cost of kids to their parents in terms of lifetime happiness, consumption, status, etc. I think people should make hugely significant choices, like how many kids to have, with accurate information about those costs. If people want a bunch of kids anyway, despite the costs, then that’s just evidence other considerations matter to them. And I’m a pluralist, so that’s cool. But if people are rushing into these kinds of choices on the basis of bad or incomplete folk information, and they end up worse off than they might have been, by their own lights, then that’s not good at all.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center