Why Do People Keep Having Children?

Listen now:
(photo: Wilmette Public Library)

(photo: Wilmette Public Library)

Season 5, Episode 9

On this week’s episode of Freakonomics Radio: first up: what are the factors that make a given person more or less likely to have children? And is the global population really going to double by the next century? Probably not.

And then: “That’s a great question!” You hear this phrase in all kinds of media interviews, during the Q&A portion of tech and academic conferences, and in ordinary meetings. Where did this ubiquitous reply come from? Is it a verbal tic, a strategic rejoinder, or something more? We talk to a linguist, a media consultant and master interviewer Charlie Rose about why it’s rare to come across an interview these days where at least one question isn’t a “great” one.

To find out more, check out the podcasts from which this hour was drawn: “Why Do People Keep Having Children?” and “That’s A Great Question!

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I like your program on "that's a good question". Could you do one on "YOU KNOW"? If the person to whom you are speaking already knows, why are you telling him/her?


I usually love your podcasts, and I would have loved this one if the music hadn't been so intrusive. In the middle, there was some very loud guitar music which was very fast and loud, and which seemed to have nothing to do with what was being said. I found it extremely difficult to follow what was being said due to both the struggle to pay attention to the voices and my annoyance at having to struggle. I almost stopped listening, but luckily I just paused it a few times and then suddenly the music stopped.

This seems to be an annoying new form-over-function trend in podcasts in general. I hope it's a trend that disappears quickly.

Thanks for listening,
Barbara in Toronto

Henry Edwards

Terrific podcast! You demonstrate that freer migration has many upsides & few downsides. The arguments against liberalization are red herrings. People are afraid of others, and this xenophobia drives some awful policy decisions. The economic benefits are clearly established, and the moral ones should drive us to open our borders more.