Having children

This page explores the moral value of having children.

Birthing can fulfill various purposes, instrumental or terminal, and those can be compared with other interventions fulfilling similar purposes in order to determine which ones are more cost-effective.

Those purposes include:

  • spreading memes
  • spreading genes
  • creating more human lives

Personal fit and mental health are also important factors to take into account.

Another factor to explore is the marginal cost of raising a kid – or in other words, the economy of scale of raising kids.

Cause area comparison

Spreading memes

In this case, this cause area can be compared with Movement building.

Spreading genes

In this case, this cause area can be compared with Sperm donation.

Creating more lives

In this case, this cause area can be compared with Population control.

Intervention comparison

Birthing vs Adopting/Fostering

Monetary cost

In the US, adopting a kid from another country can cost from $5,000 to $40,000.

Genetic impact

If you have a particularly good genetic, it might be desirable to spread it.


Spending on adoption can create economic pressure to get more kids in adoption which sometimes result in fraud, bribery, kidnapping and even trafficking in stolen children. (source)

Discussion group

Further research

If one is going to have children, all else equal how useful would it be to select a mate based on intelligence? How much is this already naturally happening?

Assuming adopting is good, what age and nationality are ideal?

External links

- The Cost of Kids by Brian Tomasik

- Be A Dad by Robin Hanson