“Why are People Having Fewer Kids? Perhaps it’s because they don’t like them very much.” That’s the title of Ron Bailey’s latest piece which very bluntly says what I suspect a lot of people are thinking:

[M]odernity essentially transforms children from capital goods that produce family income into consumption items to be enjoyed for their own sakes, more akin to sculptures, paintings, or theatre. But that’s just the problem—according to happiness researchers, people don’t really enjoy rearing children.

Despite my natalist stance, I think this is true as far as it goes. My big objection is that the data only show that people don’t really enjoy rearing children given contemporary high-stress parental practices. Fortunately, there are many feasible ways for parents to improve their lives – with little or no cost to the well-being of children. The best cure for the “birth dearth” is not doom-saying, but encouraging parents and potential parents to lighten up.