I had the pleasure to be on Minnesota Public Radio this week, along with Bryan Caplan, the author of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids. The title of The Daily Circuit’s program was, “Is It Immoral to Have Children?” We did not really get to the answer to this question directly, but there was good discussion on a host of things related to the parenthood decision. A variety of people called in with their opinions, stories and questions. The Daily Circuit site also did a poll (which can be seen at the end of the comments on the site), and I was pleasantly surprised at its results. The poll was:
Should would-be parents consider the societal impact of children?
75 % said Yes to the statement: They have an obligation to consider how their children will affect others.
25% said No to the statement: It’s purely a personal decision.
“Affecting others” can include things like: the impacts of adding to a population that arguably already threatens the planet’s finite resources, adding the carbon emissions that come with bringing another consumer onto the planet, and affecting already existing brothers and sisters (e.g., can the parents afford to bring another child into their family?).
During the program I touched on what might happen if more would-be parents took how bringing more biological children into the world will affect others when making decisions about children. One outcome could be a mindset change about adoption–a change from being seen as the “last option” to a choice that is more highly valued than pronatalism’s mantra that “biology is best.”
Putting highest value on caring for those already here over having to have one’s “own” child would help squelch myths about adoption, and help the adoption system become even effective. Also, if more parents decided to have the experience of parenthood through adoption, and more adopted children found parents to raise them, the world would be saved from the carbon wake that comes with every new biological child.
This poll could be an indication that more people than not see the societal impact of children. What do you think–would more people say “Yes” than “No” to this question? What is your answer?
The poll answers could be a little misleading. I bet a LOT of those 75% who said people should consider societal impact already believe that their having children will be GOOD for society anyway. Saying you want to consider the impact on society could be perfectly compatible with some forms of pronatalism. Many of that 75% could be pronatalists.
I guess I’m childfree person who’s in the 25%, actually. I don’t want to have kids because I don’t want to. If my having children was GOOD for society, I STILL wouldn’t have any. So, in a way, it’s not really about society at all. I think about having children mostly in terms of how it would affect me.
Interesting–I did not read it that way–but see your point. I guess it would have been worded differently to be more clear–they need Scott ;)!
Thanks for bringing up the adoption theme. If someone is truly concerned about posterity, to me, that should be the first thing considered, yes, even prior to procreation. So long as there are abused or neglected kids in this world, I will stand by this logic. To me, the logic tree is:
Kids? -> Adopt? -> Procreate? ->
I just imagined asking pronatalist people if people should consider the effects on society of having children. So many of them just can’t imagine that having children could be selfish, so it would be inconceivable for them to say “no, you don’t have to think about society.” Many of them no doubt think that having lots of children is just inherently good, so of course it’s good for society. For example, how could following God’s orders NOT be good for society? Only those selfish childfree people only think of themselves and not others….