Against High-IQ Misanthropy
By Bryan Caplan
Out of all the reactions I’ve heard to Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, the most disturbing are all variations on “Except stupid people. They shouldn’t have kids.” I could snark, “You mean people like you?,” but that would be dishonest. The latter-day proponents of negative eugenics have reasonably high IQs. But their misanthropy is still morally and economically mistaken.
Morally, I just have to ask the high-IQ misanthrope, “What did stupid people ever do to you?” Their complaints are pretty petty: The dumb kids asked annoying questions in class, made fun of your Star Trek costume, etc. Are these injuries even remotely awful enough to outweigh the fact that a human being gets to exist and enjoy life? In any case, once you reach adulthood, people of all IQs generally leave you alone if you leave them alone. If you want to give your kids a better childhood than you had, use your brains to make some extra money and move to a nicer neighborhood.
Economically, the high-IQ misanthrope has an even weaker case. Smart people may excel in all activities, but as the law of comparative advantage reveals (see here and here) everyone’s better off if people with high IQs outsource their less challenging tasks to others. In a society of Einsteins, Einsteins take out the garbage, scrub floors, and wash dishes. What a mind-numbing waste of talent!
Yes, a handful of people have IQs so low their marginal product is negative. But the vast majority of low-IQ people pull their weight. In a market economy, being less productive than average doesn’t make you a parasite. If you produce less, you earn less – simple as that.
Bottom line: When stupid people have kids, high-IQ people should be happy for them. Being smart is better than being stupid, but being stupid and alive is far better than not existing at all.