Childless and Happy

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A wave of pretty odd demographic hysteria seems to me to be sweeping across certain precincts of the country lately, a wave whose prophesies of economic doom in particular strike me as curiously unsupported by any kind of vaguely rigorous models or anything. So I appreciate all efforts to calm people down. That said, Ron Bailey's article on how being childless doesn't make people unhappy seemed to me to be a bit wide of the mark insofar as it didn't take into account the perspective of old people at all.

Whatever else raising children may be, it's also an expensive and time consuming pain in the ass that sharply limits your flexibility to do a variety of things for a large number of years. One can easily imagine the joys of parenthood being roughly offset by the burdens. But later in life, having a solid relationship with grownup kids and their children seems low-cost and hard-to-replace. Loneliness is very hard on people. To acknowledge that reality isn't to say we need to get all freaked out if the norm moves from 2-3 kids per family to 1-2 kids per family.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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