The Worst Mistake I Ever Made: An Economists' Parenting Quorum

For our latest podcast, "The Economist's Guide to Parenting," (you can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player, or read a transcript here) we turned to some of our favorite economists for advice on how to raise children. It's safe to say you won't find much of what you hear in any "expert's" guide to parenting (which was of course the point) but it was a thought-provoking exercise in applying economic principles to one of life's most perplexing and stimulating activities. As a supplement to the podcast, we thought it would be fun to convene a Freakonomics Quorum and ask some of our contributors, not for their best moment as a parent, but for their worst. The specific question we asked was:

What is the worst mistake you ever made as a parent?

Good sports that they are, they obliged with some lighthearted anecdotes of how sometimes the best intentions of rational, unemotional economists often run face-first into something called kids.

Parents Are Less Happy. So What?

Bryan Caplan’s new book, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, (which he blogged about for us here and here) has people talking about happiness and kids, again. Over at Cato Unbound, my better half Betsey Stevenson takes Bryan to task on some of his claims. It’s worth reading the full essay. Jeff Ely at Cheap Talk says you should take note of her views on the distinction between happiness and utility. Instead, I want to highlight an insight that comes from thinking through a formal framework:

The Nurture of Gretchen Carlson: A Guest Post by Bryan Caplan

Bryan Caplan, a professor of economics at George Mason University and a blogger for EconLog, has written a new book called “Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think.” And he’s been guest-blogging for us about parenting. I had a chance to interview Caplan yesterday for an upcoming Freakonomics Radio show called “An Economist’s Guide to Parenting.” He had a great deal to say on the topic, all of it interesting and much of it provocative. I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Kids and Costs: A Guest Post on Twins by Bryan Caplan

Economists usually assume that doubling output more than doubles costs; or as textbooks say, there are increasing marginal costs. So economists naturally expect twins to be more than double the effort, stress, and out-of-pocket cost of a singleton.

The Economics and Genetics of Parenting: A Guest Post by Bryan Caplan

Adoption and twin researchers have spent the last forty years measuring the effect of parenting on every major outcome that parents care about. Their findings surprise almost everyone. Health, intelligence, happiness, success, character, values, appreciation – they all run in families. But with a few exceptions, research shows that nature overpowers nurture, especially in the long-run.

Thinking Like an Economist

Previous research indicates that the more years of education a person has, the more he thinks like an economist. A new paper (summarized by the BPS Research Digest) by Bryan Caplan and Stephen C. Miller, however, attempts to separate the role of intelligence and education in "thinking like an economist."

Ich bin ein Freakonomist

In a very engaging discussion on WSJ.com, Alex Tabarrok and Bryan Caplan, a pair of economists at George Mason University, show that Freakonomics is hardly the only place to find creative applications of economic research.