Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being…

Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work… (edition 2011)

by Bryan Caplan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations
615194,696 (3.46)None
Title:Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think
Authors:Bryan Caplan
Info:Basic Books (2011), Hardcover, 240 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Tags:parenting, economics, non-fiction

Work details

Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think by Bryan Caplan



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

Showing 5 of 5
Today's Typical Parents (TTP) [a/k/a helicopter parents] often overestimate the amount of work they do, leading to complaints against having children, argues Bryan Caplan. In his book Selfish Reasons To Have More Kids, disseminates the nature/nurture dichotomy, arguing that a third factor is in play. TTP push their children too hard, make them join activities they don't want to do; thus, TTP become burnt out.

Using twin and adoption studies, Caplan argues that the upfront costs associated with children is minimal compared to the long-term gains. These studies are prove that sex ed doesn't work. Finally, Caplan argues why more children is a good thing, refuting the myth of overpopulation.

At times I felt like there was more fluff than material, but the inclusion of all of the twin and adoption research made up for it (although I felt like I'd read every single study on twin and adoption research, given the amount of research in the book). Overall, I enjoyed the informational angle. ( )
  06nwingert | Jul 5, 2013 |
I was disappointed by this book. Despite a plethora of statistics and references to studies, I found it more fluffy than I anticipated. Given the fun title, there was obviously going to be some level of fluff, but I thought an economist would give it a bit more meat.

His central preference was that as long as parents are not abusive (as generally defined by Americans), then one's parenting doesn't have much of an affect on how the kid turns out in the long run.

Much of his central assertion is premised on twin studies. Some of those he mentions seem vigorous enough (plenty of participants over a long period of time). Still, I would have liked to have seen a wider array of nature/nurture research mentioned considering the boldness of his assertion.

MS ( )
  santom01 | Nov 7, 2012 |
Caplan begins his book with a great underlying premise: modern parents invest far too much time and mental anguish in their children, and these investments benefit neither the child nor the parent. He quotes the book Free-range Kids frequently (a book I enjoyed and even follow the precepts of). He also puts forth the argument that we underestimate the value of nature over nurture (take that, John Watson). However, from these statements, he tries to draw out the conclusion that we should have more children, and he butchers statistics, economics, biology, psychology, and sociology to prove it. he takes minor statistical differences in a study to lend support to his theory, then turns around and dismisses similar results from the same study on the same page ( I.e., see pp 15-6). He also underestimates a number of the costs of raising children, depending mostly on his own anecdotes for support. He also falls into a common trap: he takes extreme anecdotes and from these draws a conclusion about society as a whole (I.e. Over scheduling children by enrolling them in too many activities may be an issue with his peer group, but I'm yet to see evidence of this as a national or universal trend).

I currently have three children, the same number as the author and his wife. Presumably, I am the target audience for this book. Ive been considering the costs and benefits of adding to our family. But the author far undervalues the upfront cost of having children, especially on the mother (I will use economics terms because it fits with the book). He strongly presents that in the long term, the cost of a child is smaller than the benefit of having many children, and that more children is essentially just as hard to handle as one. This can only be said by someone who has never been pregnant, given birth, and breastfed. It can be said by the parent who has not had to agonize over the decisions about work vs staying home. I think it is probably safe to say that the emotional costs of more children are outweighed by the emotional benefits, but overall costs are only less for a father. It is far more costly for a mother, even one who is not a worrying micromanager.

Another problem I have with this book is the very limited audience this book is true for: middle to upper class parents in the first world. If this book was followed universally, I hate to think about the environmental and economic impacts. I give the author credit for spreading the idea that parenting does not have to be an arduous task and that, if parenting is a chore, it's possible you're doing it wrong. I think many parents (moms especially) need to be given permission to take it easy. But there is a huge leap that I think the author failed to make between taking it easy while enjoying parenting to having larger families. ( )
  kaelirenee | Nov 19, 2011 |
This was a super book. Full of noteworthy comments and information. Definitely one for future reference with loads of good, thought-provoking ideas for approaches to raising one's kids. ( )
  jvgravy | Sep 10, 2011 |
Caplan is actually much more focused on the “less work” part of the subtitle. His premise is that twin and adoption research shows pretty conclusively that nurture has a much smaller effect than nature, so it’s not necessary to knock yourself trying to craft your kids—they’ll be who they’ll be. If you hate taking the kids to Disney World, skip it. If your daughter doesn’t like ballet very much and it’s a pain to take her, cancel it. Then, because having kids seems like less work than it was going to, go ahead and have another—you’ll be glad you did when they’re grown.

Not that he is not suggesting neglecting your kids—just that anything in the realm of normal for the American middle class is going to be fine for your kids (who are safer than ever, by the way). Use some sensible discipline; remember that you count, too; don’t be afraid to buy yourself some rest. Your kids want you to be more relaxed, anyway.

You don’t have to be swayed by his arguments to the point of actually having extra kids to find it thought-provoking and entertaining in places. At first, it seemed depressing to think of having so little influence on my child, but I suspect that a parent’s influence is felt in so many tiny ways throughout life (including, most noticeably, the parent-child relationship, if nothing else) and that Caplan is on to something when he says to relax. His argument that parents should chill is not really new, but he is offering innovative arguments for it as well as an interesting extension. ( )
  jholcomb | Aug 25, 2011 |
Showing 5 of 5
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 046501867X, Hardcover)

We've needlessly turned parenting into an unpleasant chore. Parents invest more time and money in their kids than ever, but the shocking lesson of twin and adoption research is that upbringing is much less important than genetics in the long run. These revelations have surprising implications for how we parent and how we spend time with our kids. The big lesson: Mold your kids less and enjoy your life more. Your kids will still turn out fine.

Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids is a book of practical big ideas. How can parents be happier? What can they change--and what do they need to just accept? Which of their worries can parents safely forget? Above all, what is the right number of kids for you to have? You'll never see kids or parenthood the same way again.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:41 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Contrarian economist Bryan Caplan takes on family planning and happiness--and turns conventional wisdom on its head.

(summary from another edition)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
21 wanted

Popular covers


Average: (3.46)
2 2
3 3
3.5 2
4 5
5 1

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 114,497,677 books! | Top bar: Always visible