My friend Joshua Gans is one of Australia’s best young economists, and he is also a parent. And as passionate as Joshua is about economics, he’s just as passionate about parenting. While it has always been fun to follow Joshua’s economic musings on his blog, Core Economics, I have been having more fun following his parenting blog, Game Theorist, devoted to “musings on economics and child rearing.”
I’m never quite sure whether this blog is about the strange things one discovers when looking at the everyday experience of parenting through the eyes of an economist, or about the strange things one discovers about economists when looking at them through the eyes of a kid. Either way, it is always interesting.
Here are a few fun samplers to get you started:
- A series of posts about optimal incentives for toilet training (including the problems that arise with the use of team incentives).
- Strategically applied Band-Aids as an anti-thumbsucking commitment device.
- How probabilistic parenting can make Dad appear to have supernatural powers.
- How to get your child to stop losing his/her lunch box.
- The spanking debate reconsidered through the lens of game theory.
- The economics of the tooth fairy.
- My favorite: Why not teach subtraction before addition and division before multiplication?
- Enforceable parenting contracts.
- The child chauffeur’s dilemma.
- And the economics of marriage — for 7-year-olds.
I’m sure that many parents will recognize many of the parenting dilemmas that Joshua has come across. Each of these vignettes is amusing, often touching, and always told in a very tender way. Yet the economist in Joshua can re-frame these stories to find the underlying economics, and perhaps some useful parenting insights as well.
The good news is that he is going to be putting some of his ideas to work in a book — Parentonomics — that should be coming out in a few months. A sample chapter (on traveling) is already available here. At this point only the Australian rights have been sold, although I think there is a great opportunity here for any publisher or agent who wants to bring this book to a broader audience.