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Will Your Kids Be Better Off Than You?

Gary Becker and Richard Posner debate a timeless question: Will the next generation be better off than their parents’ generation? Becker’s take: “America has always been optimistic about its future. The decline in such optimism during the past couple of decades is understandable, but highly regrettable. The best way to restore this optimism is to promote faster economic growth. That is feasible with the right policies, but will not happen automatically. Even America has no destiny to be optimistic about the future without important redirection of various public priorities.” Posner, meanwhile, offers a slightly different take: “[B]ut I do not think people who are well off do, or at least should, want their children to have higher incomes than they. Parental altruism implies concern for children’s welfare, rather than for children’s incomes per se; and the higher a family’s standard of living, the less likely an increase in that standard in the next generation is to increase happiness.” [%comments]