Basic microeconomics recommends a simple strategy. Have the number of children that maximizes average utility over your whole lifespan. When you are 30, you might feel like two children is plenty. But once you are 60, you are more likely to prefer ten sons and daughters to keep you company and keep the grandkids coming. A perfectly selfish and perfectly foresighted economic agent would strike a balance between these two states. For example, he might have four kids total – two too many at 30, six too few at 60.
Trust me – you’ll thank me later. Your third child ought to thank me too, but we all know better than to expect gratitude from the young. Now all you have to do is convince your spouse!
My Arnold Kling-like questions: Is Bryan overestimating the gratitude of grown children? And given that most people are unwilling to concentrate their bequests on a single child, will you get more attention if you have fewer children?