Nov 132014

What are the factors that make a given person more or less likely to have children? How important are income, education, and optimism about the future? Is it true that “development is the best contraceptive,” as demographers like to say? And is the global population really going to double by the next century? (Probably not — in fact, one U.N. estimate finds that the population in 2100 could be lower than today.)

These are some of the questions we ask in this week’s episode, “Why Do People Keep Having Children?”




EMILY OSTER: My name is Emily Oster, I’m an economist, I work at Brown University.

DUBNER: Cool. Let me ask you this easy question, we’ll start. Why do people have kids, Emily? I mean biological imperative apart, unless it’s all the biological imperative.

OSTER: I think this is probably an open question for debate. I think many people would tell you that it’s the biological imperative, I think that some people would tell you, you know, kids are enjoyable. I think some people would tell you, particularly in developing countries people have kids as an investment in their old age or even to work on their farms when the kids are young, so I think those are probably the leading candidate explanations.

DUBNER: Okay, and those are all good and believable in theory. Do we have any data that suggests that we actually know anything about this question, or not really?

OSTER: We have some data and I think that probably you’d see all of those things show up as explanations. I mean we certainly see people having remittances from their kids and telling us that, you know, remittances from their kids are an important reason to have children and certainly, many people will tell you, I enjoy having my kids. Maybe not at every single moment, but that broadly I like them. And that that was a reason to do it. But I think it’s hard to separate the biological imperative because of course your biology is telling you that that’s something you wanna do and once you’ve done it you hardly wanna say, actually, that was all a mistake.

DUBNER: That was all biology.

OSTER: That was all biology and, you know…exactly.


More Freakonomics Podcasts

Top Series

Click for more Freakonomics Shows
download the audio
Listen to ESL Podcasts and AudioBooks with Transcript
Listen to ESL Podcasts with Notes
Learn English from Teachers
Practise Your English Online

Choose Meaningful Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate, Upper-Intermediate or Advanced Series

Source: Freakonomics

More Series for You:

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>