Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Economics of Multiple "Babydaddy"

Here's a controversial explanation:
I noticed that uneducated mothers tend to have children from several fathers. I tended to blame this on their ignorance and shortsightedness, but apparently there is a very rational reason for this. Risk diversification.

Jinyoung Kim makes an evolutionary argument about mothers being ex-ante uncertain about the human capital of their children. In particular when the mother is less educated, she was to diversify the human capital risk of her children by having several fathers. In other words, monogamy is only a good idea if you are reasonably sure the children will all have good characteristics and are thus worth investing human capital into.
The logic works, especially for those whose children form their retirement.


  1. Interesting! That explanation, though, assumes that nature/genetics explains most of how a kid turns out. That does not jibe with research I plan on putting in my next "Squibs":

    "Nature is endlessly modified by the environment. The brain does not develop in accordance with a strict genetic program. Even IQ is sensitive to changes in the environment: Adopted kids that started with an average IQ of 77 returned to almost normal levels (IQ=95 or 98) after being adopted by higher socioeconomic parents -- and the higher the socioeconomic status, the higher the resulting IQ."

  2. Good point Justin. It also assumes that the poor and educated think this hard about it.

  3. Amike2:19 PM

    "So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do." -Benjamin Franklin


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