The Economics of Children and Darwinism

This discussion comes from reading a passage in The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. Smith talks about how there can only be as many people as society can provide for. This made me think that since most children are made with purpose, that the parents are economizing. They figure out what there income and future incomes are along with their current assets and then decide whether to have the kids.

As the demand for labor goes up possibly due to less people so will wages. If the wages go up so does the income and assets of the parents. What doesn’t make sense is that people who are richer have less children. The probable explanation is that children are very useful for labor espeically back in Adam Smith’s time before child labor laws. They still are helpful today around the house and are helpful in the future when the parents retire. As you become richer you can hire other people to do housework and things like that instead of having children.

So what does this have to do with Darwinism? Darwinism is the survival of the fittest. Adam Smith mentions that poor women would have 20 children during his day but would only have 4 that would live past age four. This is because of poor living conditions. And now begs the question does the market intertwine with Darwinism? If society only allows children as much as it can provide for does that mean those it cannot die? I would imagine so. We could imagine this for any other animal and the supply of food.

Now we as humans have been able to reverse much of the survival of the fittest and we could imagine that many people today wouldn’t survive in nature without our advance brains. I am not sure about all of this but it is something important to talk about. Is there an invisble hand of life?


Published in: on January 7, 2009 at 6:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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