Thanks for the correction!
The idea that life is inherently sweet and good is from Aristotle (Politics III.6).
And therefore, men, even when they do not require one another's help, desire to live together; not but that they are also brought together by their common interests in proportion as they severally attain to any measure of well-being. This is certainly the chief end, both of individuals and of states. And also for the sake of mere life (in which there is possibly some noble element so long as the evils of existence do not greatly overbalance the good) mankind meet together and maintain the political community. And we all see that men cling to life even at the cost of enduring great misfortune, seeming to find in life a natural sweetness and happiness.
The idea that even if you don't currently enjoy raising children that you will eventually see the value is taken from the Ethics (that your character will develop towards the character of a righteous person) and Agnes Callard (that you can bootstrap to higher plane of values through aspiration).
I think mine was a pretty fair representation of the classical Aristotelian view, except I said "update utility function" instead of "develop a more virtuous character."
I am open for correction here, but I believe it works like so:
Consider this argument from The New Geography of Jobs. Productivity is higher where jobs are of the smarter type. However in those places blue collar jobs are higher paid and in demand too. The high productivity job-holders have more income to dispose on a variety of service sectors. But if there is not enough saturation of the labor market there will not be the quantity and quality of service sector jobs will be lower and the cost will be higher. If the service sector labor market is significantly constricted, the productive, smart jobs will be less productive too.
H/t Milan for the help.
Is the birthrate of Western countries a long-term risk, given that even immigrants and developing countries also seem to have falling rates? And if so, what is it a risk of? What's the downside?
Rare voice of disagreement here, or at least an alternative perspective. I agree with basic idea, but it's too specific.
My motto: One should not let school get in the way of one's education. Sometimes that means taking fewer classes... Usually it means not wasting time in other ways, though. You shouldn't cut classes until you've already cut out many other non-educational low impact things. Classes are usually the most valuable thing offered by a university - finding the good ones pays dividends longer than most other things one does in college.
After freshman year, I quit video games: a kind of sad but important decision. By senior year, I committed myself to hosting study parties on Friday nights instead of carousing - graduating a semester early.
I did one major, two minors, worked a tech job 12 - 15 hours a week, and was part of and eventual leader of several clubs, including one as a magazine editor. But I also knew my GPA was going to be lower as a result, and I didn't care. Sometimes I would sacrifice school for long conversations on philosophy or reading a text in the arboretum... And I called that in 'true education.'
I only took classes I wanted to take. I only studied under professors with good reputations for teaching. I joined organizations which I could learn from and make a difference.
Otoh, I also created more animosity between my vision of education and the university than was necessary.
The boring truth about these decisions is that there is a Production Possiblity Curve available to you, and you should get on it so that you can gain the most skills, taking the best classes, while crafting the best social system possible at a personally sustainable and efficient use of your time and resources.
When you have these long term predictions which you plan on keeping track of, it is helpful, if possible, to create multiple models to apply to each forecast so that in the retrospective one can determine which, if any of the models, was more successful than the others.
So perhaps you have a prediction about how many volunteers will be required for a particular initiative to save x lives 10 years out. If you keep three separate forecasting reports which are explicit about their reasoning, then the iterative improvement process can happen a bit more quickly.