I just emailed the final version of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids to Basic Books.  Without EconLog, it never would have happened – as I explain in my Acknowledgements.  Thanks again to readers and Liberty Fund.

P.S. The book will be in stores in time for Mother’s Day (April 12, 2011 is the official release date), but you can pre-order here.


Many authors say they couldn’t have written their books without their families’ inspiration and support.  In my case, it’s literally true.  I was familiar with most of the facts in this book years before I became a dad.  But my children inspired me to ponder what the facts mean.  They transformed my cool curiosity into an enthusiastic philosophy of parenting.  And while my wife thinks I go too far, she has always been happy to hear me out and work side by side to make our family something special.  I love you all.

My other great debt is to blogging.  I’m a professor by trade, but the blogosphere is my intellectual home.  To me, academic writing feels too narrow and timid.  Blogs are the New World of the mind – the land where science meets common sense, and logic meets life.  For years, I largely kept my parenting thoughts to myself because I lacked a forum to develop them.  Then I became a blogger for EconLog.  My second post was called “The Selfish Reason to Have More Kids” – and before long, parenting was my favorite topic.  I owe the most to Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, who gave me my start as a guest blogger; Cafe Hayek’s Don Boudreaux and Russ Roberts, who paved the way for me to become an EconLog regular; my co-bloggers Arnold Kling and David Henderson; Liberty Fund for hosting us; and our many thoughtful readers.  I also thank the Mercatus Center and George Mason University’s economics department for every kind of support.

The Internet has made it child’s play to get feedback from all over the world.  Omar Al-Ubaydli, Jim Bennett, David Bernstein, Peter Boettke, Sara Bumgarner, Corina Caplan, David Cesarini, Tyler Cowen, Bill Dickens, Brian Doherty, David Friedman, Patri Friedman, Joshua Gans, Daniel Gilbert, Zachary Gochenour, David Gordon, Ananda Gupta, Robin Hanson, Tim Harford, Judith Harris, Teresa Hartford, Lisa Hill-Corley, Steve Horwitz, Garett Jones, Tim Kane, Steve Landsburg, Daniel Lurker, Greg Mankiw, Robert Plomin, Marta Podemska, David Romer, Charles Rowley, Amy Schneider, Jim Schneider, Lenore Skenazy, Ilya Somin, Ed Stringham, Tim Sullivan, Peter Twieg, Matt Zwolinski, and anonymous reviewers all responded to drafts.  It would have been hard to improve without them  I’m extra grateful to Alex Tabarrok and Tim Harford for organizational insight, Robert Plomin for expert reassurance, Bill Dickens and Judith Harris for expert criticism, David Gordon for sagely proof-reading, and Matt Zwolinski for the subtitle.

No matter how far the Internet develops, however, it will never replace lunch.  When a new idea strikes me, I yearn to defend it face-to-face over a meal.  Luckily, I have many heroic colleagues who habitually indulge me, especially Robin Hanson, Garett Jones, John Nye, and of course Tyler and Alex.

Still, my deepest intellectual debts are to thinkers I see less often, if at all.  Sheldon Richman piqued my interest in population issues almost twenty years ago when he ran the Cato Institute’s summer interns program.  Judith Harris’ The Nurture Assumption awoke me from my dogmatic slumbers on the nature-nurture question – and convinced me that the issue was anything but academic.  Bill Dickens was the first economist I knew who took human genetics seriously – and always knew what he was talking about.  Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids demonstrated how wise and beautifully written a parenting book could be.  My greatest thanks, though, go to the late Julian Simon, who opened my eyes to the blessings of population.  Out of all the people I’ll never meet, I miss him the most.