Sunday, May 5, 2013

Economists' sex lives and long-term thinking

I'm unimpressed by Niall Ferguson's recent comments on Keynes' childlessness, homosexuality and putative disinterest in future generations; I'm glad Ferguson has apologized. Walter Olson has an incisive post here, and Andrew Sullivan a more forgiving take here. I'll just add that dubious sex-focused analysis has been deployed toward other economists over the years. An example comes from David Warsh's book Economic Principals : Masters and Mavericks of Modern Economics, which I reviewed two decades ago for Reason. Excerpt from Warsh:

For my part, I can attest that becoming a parent has made me more attuned to the needs and well-being of children in general. I also perceive that being a parent has made me short-term-focused much of the time--there's just too much to do. Certainly, some of the really long-term thinking I did back when I was in my late teens or early 20s--mulling over the next few millennia, or even accelerating to the end of the universe--is a luxury/distraction I would not be inclined to indulge now. That may have as much to do with having a mortgage as having a child, and whether it's an improvement or not I won't opine.

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