The case for having more kids (and immigrants)

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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While Matt is on holiday, he has selected a few of his “greatest hits” to re-run until he returns next week. This originally ran on August 22, 2011.

In a world that seems to encourage trite platitudes, there’s nothing better than meeting someone who pokes holes in conventional wisdom — especially when that person is qualified to do so.

Byran Caplan, a professor of economics at George Mason University, is just that kind of man. I recently chatted with him about two topics where his take seems to defy conventional wisdom: parenting and immigration.

Caplan’s new book “Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think” undercuts the “Tiger Mom” philosophy of child rearing. Caplan’s theory is essentially this: If your kid doesn’t want to take piano lessons, don’t make him. It probably won’t matter, anyway.

Caplan believes in large families and dismisses the Malthusian population theory, telling me, “more people, more ideas.”

Speaking of the benefits of “more people,” Caplan and I also spent a lot of time talking about immigration. Not only does he think the concerns over legal (and illegal) immigration are overblown — Caplan even argues that immigration is helping America fend off European-style socialism.

Citing the welfare state tendencies of largely heterogeneous nations like Denmark and Sweden, Caplan argues: “What immigration does is reduces the ethnic homogeneity of the country, and [this] tends to turn — especially the native population — against the welfare state.”

“It seems like the net effect is [that] places with more minorities and more immigration seem to have smaller welfare states,” he explains.

If any of this sounds interesting (or infuriating), I encourage you to listen to our full conversation here.

Matt K. Lewis