Gender and the confidence gap

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one bit:

The first new study focuses on performance in high school, and the startling result is this: Girls with more exposure to high-achieving boys (as proxied by parental education) have a smaller chance of receiving a bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, they do worse in math and science, are less likely to join the labor force, and more likely to have more children, which in turn may limit their later career prospects.

Those are disturbing results.  Exposure to high-achieving peers is normally expected to be a plus, not a minus. It is what parents are trying to do when they place their children into better schools, or when school systems work hard to attract better students.


A second new study finds that even blind review does not avoid gender bias in the processing of grant proposal applications, drawn from data from the Gates Foundation. It turns out that women and men have different communications styles, with the women more likely to use narrow words, and the men more likely to use broader ones. And reviewers, it turns out, favor broad words, which are more commonly associated with more sweeping claims, and disfavor the use of too many narrow words.

The net result is that “even in an anonymous review process, there is a robust negative relationship between female applicants and the scores assigned by reviewers.” This discrepancy persists even after controlling for subject matter and other variables. Notably, however, it disappears when controlling for different rhetorical styles.

These two studies probably are connected to each other. While the two sets of researchers do not address each other’s claims, it is not a huge leap to think of broader, more sweeping language as reflecting a kind of confidence, whether merited or not. Narrow words, on the other hand, may reflect a lower level of confidence or a greater sense of rhetorical modesty. Not only might lower confidence hurt many women in life, but a greater unwillingness to signal confidence — regardless of whether it’s genuine — might hurt them too.

There is much more at the link, recommended.


My grandmother (a high achiever) encouraged her granddaughters to attend an all-girls prep school and an all-girls college. She knew why. It seems outdated that girls only want to please boys and that girls don't develop self-confidence around boys. What would Sally Rooney say?


Calm down, Ray. Girls attending all-girls schools are horney girls, so get over it. They aren't interested in getting married to men who fart, mistreat them, and become Republicans, but they do stand a better chance of making a contribution to society that men who fart, mistreat women, and become Republicans.

Apply to some cultures but not all? But the gender gap is universal.

That is why we sent our daughter to an all girl school. And lo, in college, she was a math major. Most of the time, she was the only white girl in her class.

All white, all girls would have fixed that. I presume the other race was Chinese?

I guess this was unclear. Her high school was all girls, though multiracial. Her college was coed and multiracial, but there weren't too many white female math majors.

White privilege maybe? And why would you wish on her becoming a math major? No money in that, except maybe if you work on Wall Street for the Renaissance hedge fund, with lots of competition. Better to have gotten her into the MRS program (find a rich young man in college and marry him)?

Stay classy, Ray

Math works well for other "hot" jobs like data science, AI, software engineering, and anything blockchain in addition to finance, banking , and trading that you mentioned. If looking for a more stable but less dynamic job you could swing for defense, actuary, or the NSA.

value(math_degree + some_other_skills) = value( some_other_skills)

Getting completely off topic now, but I wonder how much math strength actually translates to capability in other areas, say of business. I think of math capability as a bit like chess, chess geniuses are not necessarily geniuses at other areas. I work in a business with some very capable math guys (PhDs in math from top universities) and outside their particular areas (which are math related) they do not particularly stand out, which was a surprise to me. Before I came I saw their resumes and thought I would be dealing with some supermen who would be wowing me with their cleverness in many areas.

Well, I don't like the sound of that, because I have a math degree. I was talking about the relative market value of skills, and I was overstating the case just for fun.

I hired many software engineers over the years - some with CS degrees. I discovered, in my relatively small sample, that some of the best developers had backgrounds in math, physics, chemistry, and music. The very best didn't even have degrees, and some of those not many college credits. The very best if the best were self-motivated, self-taught, and curious - they tried lots of things.

The bottom tier always asked me for more training. The top tier, self-taught, did the teaching.

I paid the top tier more, a lot more, and wasn't too troubled if the bottom tier got mad and quit.

I think one skill that math and physics majors have is that (innate?) ability to solve problems. I have seen so many degreed people that just don't have that skill.

As a non-degreed musician (of limited success) I'm curious about where music fits in yr comment, including where you would find those folks. Care to expand?

Not sure what you are expecting. Math and physics majors tend to do well in technical fields so no I wouldn't say they are like chess which transfers not at all. Business is orthogonal. Some like Steve Ballmer, Jim Simons, or Jeff Gundlach (all math majors) have it but others won't.

I am an engineer, and the math that we do is pretty simple compared with what I see mathematicians, especially elite ones, have to deal with. So I thought they would be clearly superior to regular engineers in business, but I don't see that.

I guess it depends on what kind of engineering you do, but I would have thought that engineers potentially used most of the math taught at an undergraduate level, e.g., differential equations, sophisticated statistical analysis. My daughter works in finance, and doesn't really use very much of what she learned in college.

Strong, if not professional chess skills (say ELO 2300+), must be a reasonable proxy for high-IQ and conscientiousness; there is a LOT of study time at that level (which is why I quit before getting there), and you have to have a damn good visual memory and pattern recognition.

Chess-as-genius indicator is badly overused, but it has some signalling utility.

"more likely to have more children, which in turn may limit their later career prospects.

Those are disturbing results."

How do the achievement levels of the fathers of the children of these women compare?

Nobody cares. Only outcomes for women matter. Men can go die early - the sooner the better, as long as the life insurance is good enough and the premiums are paid.


Sorry but the paper does not measure "self confidence" as a general trait. The self confidence questions were,

Q1. On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is low and 5 is high, how much do you want to go to college?

Q2. On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is low and 5 is high, how likely is it that you will go to college?

Q3. Compared with other people your age, how intelligent are you? (Note the context of the question (college), and that relative to their peer groups the high-achievement bucket was in fact relatively less smart.)

The results of this paper are only disturbing if you think it is morally imperative to maximize the number of women with bachelors (problematic?) degrees and eliminate the gap between number of men and women bachelors recipients. I have no idea why we should do this so I am not disturbed; actually I chuckle a bit that anyone would be.

"eliminate the gap between number of men and women bachelors recipients."

Ironically, discouraging women from attending college would help achieve that goal. Of course, "gender equality" in common parlance means "everything for women, nothing for men"


My wife has a Bachelor's degree and is smarter than me. But she chose to give up a lucrative career to be a stay at home mom and home school teacher. She was 100% supportive of my career switch from law to financial advisor, and that support paid dividends in the long run. I can afford all our bills on one salary and our expenses are vastly lower. We don't miss a thing.

FWIW, I would have given up my day job, but I really don't think I would have been as suited to be Mr. Mom. Comparative advantage definitely came into play.

They buried the lede: It doesn't seem to help boys to have “high-achievers” peers either!

"The effect of “high-achievers” on male outcomes is markedly different: boys are unaffected by “high-achievers” of either gender. "

TC: "Girls with more exposure to high-achieving boys (as proxied by parental education) have a smaller chance of receiving a bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, they do worse in math and science, are less likely to join the labor force, and more likely to have more children, which in turn may limit their later career prospects.

Those are disturbing results".

In this thread, Tyler Cowen is disturbed that girls who encounter high-achieving boys, er... tend to marry them instead of pursuing careers?

This women marrying and having children with successful men when they meet them is surely a disturbing business! How on earth can we prevent it?

Like Tyler, seriously, how do you get from "X are less likely to do Y if exposed to Z" from "... and this must be because X are less confident!"? As if they couldn't be less interested despite being exactly as confident, or less motivated, despite being exactly as confident.

"In this thread, Tyler Cowen is disturbed that girls who encounter high-achieving boys, er... tend to marry them instead of pursuing careers?"

That's it. This piece is one of Tyler's weakest, I don't get it - surely he isn't this stupid?

Yeah, that turn of phrase jumped out to me as well.

And to all that are sane. Like Margaret Atwood, our host views motherhood as slavery. But so decadent am I, I absolve him because he gave me the delightful shiny object of the chimp swiping and clicking chimp videos on a smartphone.

Shocking News From The World of Science.

Or. young girls need to be saved from high-achieving boys. Probably, little Hillary would excel in STEM classrooms populated with ADHD boys swinging from the chandeliers.

I don't know how today's boys and girls do it? Almost every day they're being told they will be shot in their classroom. We had it much easier. We only had air raid drills wherein we slid under our desks awaiting nucular death.

You were traumatized, hun.

One gets over it. If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger.

I didn't cry when Obama twice got elected. That was twice worse.

We were grounded. We didn't obsess over things we can't control. It was not so difficult to stop worrying and love the bomb. After all. we knew what bathroom to use.

We've come a long way, baby.

I don't know about grant proposals, but more generally I haven't been noticing much "rhetorical modesty" lately from writers female or otherwise

Use of broad language: Linguistic manspreading.

Calling language 'broad' - very problematic.

All right, dame language then.

Those results really shouldn't surprise us. There's a tension between some societal norms ("women should prioritize high achievement like men") and evolutionary psychology, and even a few generations will quickly erode the power of a societal norm if it's a poor breeding strategy. As Kaplan(?) said, you have to be in the future to have a say in it.

TLDR: If you expose young women to high-achieving males, they are more likely to prefer to have babies with them over competing with them -- good luck "fixing" that.

My thoughts exactly. Another case of "I hate when reality doesn't fit my ideology"

Except TallDave sounds like the spelling bee nerd that got rejected by all the women. He wishes that all the geeks got the chicks but reality got in the way of his beliefs. If you want sex with lots of women you have to take the red pill and become an Alpha Male.

"take the red pill and become an Alpha Male."

You mean, take the orange pill and become like Trump? Braggart BS-artists have always gotten more action. Still, that shouldn't make a person want to emulate those traits.

And another +1.
I think the quote you're looking for is "The future belongs to those who show up," by Mark Steyn.

My first thought too.

My second thought was that deeply held attitudes around work and family and gender roles are strongly inherited - and if those existing families are predominantly male earning and female parenting, then it's no great surprise if those attitudes are propagated.

Narrower words might also signal a desire to be precise and honest, which are not bad traits. The problem seems to be on the reviewer's side if the reviewers value bombastic self-confidence over scientific precision and truthfulness.

Or it's an indicator that she's complexifying and not abstracting, using too many words, and boring the reviewer.

Broad words aren't necessarily more confident, bombastic or untrue. They're simply less granular. Using less granular language when addressing reviewers and grantors seems like something that would maximize one's chances for receiving a positive review, doesn't it?

This seems like an easy thing to teach people (women) how to do without having to indict anyone over it.

I don't know. That depends on whether reviewers think that less granular words are "better". Why should there be a preference in favor of broad words?

I don't know why any more than I know why people like the Jonas Brothers better than they like Frank Zappa. But, armed with this knowledge, if I have to put music to a big presentation at work, I'll choose the Jonas Bros over Zappa, even though I like Zappa better.

I could give some just-so stories about why broad language would be more appealing, but none of that matters. It's easy to change the words you use; far easier than changing which words other people prefer to read.

Well, what if part of the reason they prefer broad words is because men for some innate gendered reason prefer broad words, and most of the reviewers are male. If there were innate sex differences in words choices that would buttress the argument that having male reviewers review admissions applications would create an innate bias against female applicants. That's the gist of these sort of studies, after all, to seek out sources of reviewer bias, so as to make the admissions process more unbiased. The whole point of this is to "change the words other people prefer to read" - in other words to train reviewers to recognize their own biases and correct for them.

You mean select reviewers not according to expertise but according to what might be more convenient for Hazel?

I'm way past having to write admissions essays. I have a doctorate.

Admissions essays? You mean academic papers?

Note I'm not necessarily agreeing this is the case. It could just as easily be some arbitrary contemporary stylistic thing. I don't know if 100 years ago signalling self-confidence would be so well received. Or culturally American. Would broad language be pleasing to Japanese reviewers, or would Japanese reviewers prefer more precise, modest language? Could reviewer's cultural preference for "self-confidence" signalling create bias against applicants from cultures where signalling self-confidence is NOT considered a positive?

take a school like Emory that is more southern than british, that has stronger women than men, and you have a kind of dim-witted Case, a school that is in-fact more scientific. What's the upside in this kind of comparison? well, test scores are problematic today, everywhere except China, where they fare better due to "musical" reasons. There are a lot of Chinese at both Emory and Case but no one says they have an "Asian" influence.

Well, that's the whole point, isn't it? Because there is nothing to say that this actually is a gender problem, we shouldn't treat it as one.

I look forward to the author's next paper (and TC's rapt coverage in Bloomberg) when they study why girls are 30% more likely to get an undergraduate degree than boys.


Whatever gender gaps exist today, let's not overstate them. Some subset of women are less likely to something or other than their peers in a way which appears to correlate with this other thing. Let's hold off on that phone call to the UN, shall we, and maybe consider the bigger picture?

and more likely to have more children, which in turn may limit their later career prospects.

That's what womanhood has been about since the dawn of man and remains today despite the denials of the pseudo-sophisticates. Oswald was right.

About this and so much else besides

The fact that "blind review does not avoid gender bias in the processing of grant proposal applications" actually supports the hypothesis that gender bias does not exist: it shows that male applications are naturally more likely to be granted applications not because of their gender but because of the objective characteristics of their application.

Indeed. Who taught the women to write applications like that? This isn't something you start doing when you are a precocious 12 year old, but after getting a degree in something or other.

Most language arts teachers are women. The girls in those classes pay attention in class, do their homework, and learn the skills taught by the teachers. Conversely, boys don't pay attention in class, don't do their homework, and therefore don't have to unlearn those bad habits later. They then use bombastic language, learned on the playground, that takes advantage of a common human bias - the halo effect.

Boys do terrible in prison, er, I mean school, but end up running the world.

That's my 'just so' story and I'm sticking to it!

Americans pretend they care about women, but they keep supporting Wahhabist expansionism whereas President Captain Bolsonaro has vowed to allow women to carry guns to kill criminals.

Americans already 'allow' women to carry guns to kill criminals.

For a few centuries now.

It is different. The point being, Brazil is doing something about violent crime, while America is a land of carnage and murder.

What do murder rates look like for Brazilian cities vs. US cities?

He's a little crazy, hun. You won't make any sense out of him.

No, I am not crazy. I am myself.

I would be highly skeptical of these results which are a mix of zeitgeist and identity politics masqueraded with science... A quick browse through the abstract of the first paper shows implausible effects: how is it possible that exposure to "high achieving boys" increases chance that girls have children before 18?

I'll point out that women are going to find out that they got a raw deal if they modify all their behavior for the sake of maximizing career success. One day, we all retire; if we're lucky, we'll have something else to spend our twilight years on, other than cats and travel groups for silver singles. A few women, at least, still understand that there's more to life than maximizing economic productivity. How about we don't pretend that all those womens are victims of a patriarchy?

Facebook newsfeeds are full of happy grandmothers.

That is what really matters. Only a nerdy old economist gives a rat's patoot what some old maid artist or writer has to say. Although, I do enjoy the kitty videos.

he first new study focuses on performance in high school, and the startling result is this: Girls with more exposure to high-achieving boys (as proxied by parental education) have a smaller chance of receiving a bachelor’s degree

And it doesn't seem to help males either!

Using parental education as a proxy for the kids being "high achieving" seems to be somewhat problematic. Just because the parents are well-educated doesn't mean their kids aren't lazy/stupid, for one. It would also be interesting to compare "high achievers" whose fathers are well-educated vs. mothers that are well-educated.

I and two other males were chucked out of a biology class at secondary school. The Principal called us in to explain. The girls in the class were becoming demoralised by how easy we found the work and by our habit of deducing what the teacher must be about to tell us next. He made the case that he had to put the interest of twenty or thirty not very clever girls before three clever boys who would thrive whatever they studied.

We didn't protest - he'd taken us into his confidence, been wonderfully frank, and made his case very well. He swore us to silence but it can't do any harm to tell the story now.

"Lord, grant me the confidence of a mediocre white man".

I wonder if these results carry across countries/cultures. The American culture celebrates and encourages grandiosity.

Interesting to think of connections with the assortative mating stuff.

What bad things did boys do to make women dominate advertising and other social, creative businesses?

Or is that despite all those bad bad boys?

You know what is funny about this post from the get go?

Let's say you are a parent of a boy and a girl.

In your own experience as a parent, is it true that your daughter's exposure to your son's high achievement in high school caused your daughter to have a lower chance of receiving a bachelors degree.

Maybe you can look at your own family experience and detect what is true or not.

Call it a twins study, but not quite.

Also, if girls get pregnant in college, they drop out.
But, boys don't.

Contraception is the answer.

Name me one boy in college that got pregnant, and didn't drop out.

Alternative interpretation of the first study: High achieving boys are rich. Girls who travel in rich circles know high achieving boys and get to marry these boys and not have to work hard. They choose to take easier jobs or just stay at home to raise children. Their "low" achievement is a privilege.

God knows if I had a sugar momma who paid for my lifestyle and all I had to do was cook and raise the children, then complain that she wasn't helping me with housework and play the oppressed card, I'd do it.

+1, exactly, posted a similar comment upthread. At least this should be tested to try and check if it's the case. Not all the girls may marry, but I bet those that don't still enjoy a pretty nice lifestyle. Slightly shocking it took to this point of the comment thread for this to come through. (I mean, Tyler, didn't you get *anything* out of all that Jane Austen?).

Tyler pretends to have difficulty with the idea that Women's payoff may not be identical to Men's payoff in all circumstances.

But, c'mon, really he understands it perfectly well yet has to signal otherwise in august outlets like Bloomberg. He lives in an environment where it is axiomatic that Women == Men - Oppression.

Competency from top performers, in general, can either breed insecurity or cause a change in one's direction. Jeff Bezos famously dropped out of a theoretical physics PhD because he struggled for hours on a problem that his more gifted roommate solved in his head. Here's how Bezos explained it:

I figured this out (possibly too) early. In High School I got a crap result on the Putnam but it was the highest score in my next to a University and full of Profs kids highschool. The next year in a College Physics class I ran into the really smart people and a year later was majoring in Economics.

Being the world's richest person is a nice consolation prize.

When you have a good social network, domestic skills substitute for career skills. What if the girls marry high-achieving boys, and become supportive wives and loving mothers of successful families? Is that more "disturbing" than women getting enormous student loans for useless humanities degrees?

Women should find a guy to rewrite her grant proposal for her.

This page needs a Like button.

Markets in everything.

Assuming the study findings are good ones; Doesn't that imply separate male and female education for best outcomes? If exposure to same sex high achievers results in good educational outcomes, but exposure of women to male high achievers results in poorer educational outcomes, then you want your women exposed to female high achievers and your males exposed to male high achievers... IE single sex schools with mixed levels of student performance.

I eagerly await the study 30 years from now that laments that exposure to low achieving males led to fewer women having families. Maybe it will disturb Tyler while he is eating his pudding.

The abstract of the first study says "The girls most strongly affected are those in the bottom half of the ability distribution".

So this is actually a good thing, and the only problem is that there doesn't seem to be a similar effect for boys. It is of course rather foolish for either boys or girls in the bottom half of the ability distribution to embark on a career in math or science, in which people in the bottom half of the ability distribution probably have negative productivity, and consequent poor career prospects.

Though, as a previous commenter noted, the effect is of "exposure to high-achieving boys (as proxied by parental education)". So the authors are basically fooling themselves. They are actually testing "exposure to boys with educated parents". Describing this as "exposure to high-achieving boys" makes no more sense than describing it as "exposure to boys with expensive cars" - both of these being positively correlated with parental education.

Tall men have high incomes, a Mankiw report points out. Look at the cross between gender and height and income. Being small accounts for a good portion of it.

And, unlike our President, girls do not have big hands either.

Not sure why it disturbs Tyler to see women having children instead of focusing on a career. My sister who obtained an MBA and has a good job, but waited too long to have kids, thus has none. I would rather my daughter get married and have children than have a "career" and no children. I suspect these girls who go to good high schools with high achievers are attending these good schools because they live in an affluent town , thus observe many happy housewives with children who have husbands with good careers to support them. Since most girls still desire a family it appears these girls are actually realizing their dreams instead of wasting time obtaining advanced degrees and a career.

Exactly. Tyler is supposed to be this great professor (and maybe he is), but he brainlessly repeats the same tired old cliches. For example, he says that it is disturbing that women who were exposed to high-achieving boys have more children. But maybe women like to have children? We could just as well make the argument that the women who had fewer children are the unlucky ones. There is no thinking going on here.

Women that have more children are welfare leeches. I refuse to pay higher taxes to fund their irresponsible lifestyle.

Tyler is a Conservative, Libertarian leaning, cultured public intellectual.

Does he consider Chesterton's Fence and unintended consequences? That intrusive and unnecessary reforms may damage or destroy culturally useful institutions which he is not aware of. He does not. (Despite being Conservative).

Does he consider that this may be the outcome of free individuals associating freely and freely making life choices and not anything that needs tinkering, wherever the chips fall? He does not. (Despite being Libertarian leaning).

Does he consider that young girls may have goals and intentions in mind and needs other than being a robot programmed to accumulate education and career based measures of achievement, and that pursuing these goals and needs is not a sign of low confidence? He does not. (Despite being cultured and knowledgeable about world culture, high culture and history).

Now chance does any almost other public intellectual in the Upper Middle Class (typically nominally Liberal, Progressive and narrowly focused on the US pop culture zeitgeist and "It's The Current Year!") ever stand of getting anything right?

"...chance ... getting anything right?"

No. Which is why we have to wrest control of the nation from these cultural robots. Their software needs updating, it's buggy. It isn't going to be easy, but we have to do it. They have put the airliner into a nosedive while believing they are great pilots.

Meanwhile, in sands of the desert, a beast with no such lack of self-confidence, unlike the liberal democracies, is having lots of babies. In 10-30 years hordes of them will come crashing onto our shores. It will be the end, the final act of a slow cultural suicide.

Finally someone makes a logical, factual, reasonable, non-emotional point that is guaranteed to happen. Don 't listen to the idiotic liberals (redundant) who tell you their fake news about falling birthrates worldwide, or cultural changes in history. The world is ending and we are all doomed. Simple facts.

Let me see if I have this straight - women who grow up surrounded by high-achieving men then get married to high-achieving men and no longer have to work outside the home. And when they no longer *have* to work, choose, as their career, raising a family?

Its almost like men and women have different core wants when it comes to what is and is not a 'worthwhile life'.

And women who don't wish to get married and have kids or can't have more time to devote to their own pursuits. They become barren-wombed spinster feminists making lots of money but still never living up to the performance of their male peers. While their flabby bodies rot on the couch drinking chardonnay and petting the cats and wondering why they are so unhappy and unfulfilled, all they can think of is how unfair life is for women.

Or maybe they are just people?

Have you considered that there might be fewer feminists in the world if you didn't summarize women who choose not to center their lives on motherhood as sad fat losers?

I mean that seriously.

That, uh . . . that got a little dark there.

Damn, son! That's some high quality triggered-ness. And a bit reductive, mercy.

You got it straight.

Sometimes you wonder if 1) Tyler intentionally acts dumb just to 1a) get hits on his articles, 1b) score virtue points, or 2) he's really as dumb as he sounds.

You mean that women who meet high achieving men are more likely to become devoted wives and mothers? Say it ain't so!

The more equality among the sexes in a country, the more likely women are to choose traditionally female jobs/roles. The same goes for women with more financial freedom (e.g., those who get to marry rich, high-achieving men or those who are independently wealthy enough to run in high-achieving male circles), the less likely they are to bust their asses to make ends meet.

Men don't have the same privilege. Society frowns on house-husbands. So, men are forced to work their asses off and be "high-achieving" and die of stress-related diseases on average ~5 years before women.

Can I get some of that sweet sweet #FemalePrivilege?

Even if someone runs a study in which only women of color analyze grant applications that only come from women of color, they will find a bias favoring white males. Because that is the only reason for doing these studies.

I find the claim here about 'rhetorical modesty' the most telling. Rhetorical modesty seems to me to be more precise, and I'm always highly skeptical of anyone making very grand claims. Hearing that this behaviour is rewarded is unfortunate if true.

That was my reaction as well. It doesn't surprise me at all, but it's a pretty damning reflection on grant application reviewers, and a depressing window into one of the problems with scholarship.

The other more interesting finding in the 2nd study is, "female applicants exhibit a greater response in follow-on scientific output after an accepted proposal, relative to male applicants."

I think that is the headline I will share with STEM-minded daughters.

The effect isn't bad, it's just one Tyler doesn't like. Who knew that if you give women (or anyone) more options, they may chose something you don't like. Either way, it's good to have options.

Why does the second study assume it's a gender bias and not just that people prefer one style of writing over another?

Tyler has been running a great blog for at least 12 years and no vacations that I remember, so he certainly can be forgiven for extremely rare stupid comment.
Thinking that society 'loses' when intelligent women have children is a very short-sighted viewpoint.
I have found that academics are more prone to display this viewpoint, and I think one reason is that every single fall, they are met by hundreds or thousands of intelligent young people who seem to 'come out of nowhere.' They ignore the social investment that produces these youngsters.

In addition, there was a time after Paul Ehrlich's books on the 'population bomb' when it was almost considered heroic not to have children. I think there is a hangover in some circles of this attitude.

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