By Bryan Caplan
According to conventional wisdom, women want kids more than men. But when you start looking at the data, conventional wisdom doesn’t seem to check out. Country by country, men and women desire almost exactly the same number of kids. Kids hurt women’s happiness more than men’s. So is the idea that women want kids more than men just a myth?
I was starting to wonder until I came across a fascinating article on “baby fever” in the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology. The authors asked 1,560 Finns, “Have you felt a strong wish to have your own child?” Survey says:
Notice: When you focus on “baby fever,” a big gender gap emerges. Less than half of men in their twenties feel baby fever – versus more than two-thirds of women. Women are more than three times as likely as men to say that they “often” long for kids. Baby fever increases in both genders once they hit their thirties, but the gap remains: Just 14% of thirty-something women never experience baby fever, versus 30% of men.
Sure, it’s just one study from Finland, but it strikes me as highly psychologically perceptive. Women don’t want more kids than men, but they do want kids more. In fact, the results suggest to me that most men would forego children for the right price, but most women would not. Am I reaching?