Re: longevity and overpop

Bradley Felton (
Mon, 27 Jul 1998 20:05:53 -0500

At 10:20 AM 7/27/98 -0700, Robin Hanson wrote:
>On Damien B.'s cue, I'll say I think Max's "inevitable" claim is too strong.
>There is nothing economically inevitable about wanting to have fewer kids
>you're rich; it's a matter of preferences. And there are in fact a minority
>of rich folks who seem to prefer large families, and whose kids do too.

I too find such claims suspect--they seem to be prime cases of post hoc, ergo propter hoc. One could probably find as much "evidence" for a connection between Coca-Cola consumption and smaller families.

I suspect memetic influence is the likely causal factor, rather than wealth. We need look no farther than Madison Avenue to find memetic attacks targeted at the well-to-do.

Also, my imperfect knowledge of history leads me to believe that the connection between wealth and smaller families is one which doesn't go back that far.

OTOH, the rich family that has lots of kids ends up dividing the pie a lot of ways, ofttimes enough to disqualify the offspring from the "rich" title. If a significant percentage of the "rich" get that way by inheritance, then the state of being "rich" will tend to evolve small families....

As nature doesn't measure wealth in dollars, I suspect this isn't a good trade in the long run.

-Bradley Felton