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 asked for parenting advice from a most unlikely group of people: economists. The roster of guests includes our very own Steve Levitt, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers; and also features economist parents Bruce Sacerdote, Melissa Kearney, Valerie Ramey, and Bryan Caplan.
As a bit of extra fun, we decided to make a photo gallery out of the cute family pictures they sent us. Take a look at these proud economist parents!
Toward the end of our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast, “The Economist’s Guide to Parenting,” Steve Levitt points to the loads of social science research demonstrating that the one sure-fire way to have a bad life, is to have a mother who doesn’t love you. Which brings him to a rather radical point: should parenting be licensed? Here’s a bit from the transcript:
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LEVITT:There’s a lot of research on un-wantedness and tremendous historical data sets from social science of the last fifty years that suggest that if your mother doesn’t love you, nothing good will happen to you in life. The lowest common denominator for having a kid who turns out well is the kid being loved. And if I were president for a day, maybe dictator for a day, one of the first things that I might do would be to make it harder to be a parent, to make the standards for being a parent more difficult. You should have to demonstrate some proficiency at parenting perhaps to be a parent.
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. Read More »
Our newest Freakonomics Radio podcast is called “The Economist’s Guide to Parenting.” This is the second of five hour-long podcasts we’ll be releasing over the coming weeks. Some of you may have heard them on public-radio stations around the country, but now all the hours are being fed into our podcast stream. (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player above, or read the transcript here.)
I know what you’re thinking when you read the title of this podcast. You’re thinking what the **** — economists? What can economists possibly have to say about something as emotional, as nuanced, as humane, as parenting? Well, let me say this: because economists aren’t necessarily emotional (or, for that matter, all that nuanced or humane), maybe they’re exactly the people we need to sort this through. Maybe.
You may remember that we wrote a bit about parenting in Freakonomics; now we’ve put together an entire roundtable of economists to talk about a great many elements of child-rearing, with one essential question in mind: how much do parents really matter, and in what dimensions? So you’ll hear about parents’ effect on everything from education and culture cramming to smoking and drinking. Read More »
A recent report by Gretchen Livingston and Kim Parker at the Pew Research Center explores the ways that American fatherhood has evolved over the last 50 years, particularly as it relates to the time fathers spend with their children. Since the mid-twentieth century, fatherhood has split in two distinct directions, they say: fathers either spend significantly more time with their kids, or live totally apart from them.
Fathers who live with their children have become more intensely involved in their lives, spending more time with them and taking part in a greater variety of activities. However, the share of fathers who are residing with their children has fallen significantly in the past half century.
In 1960, only 11% of American children lived apart from their fathers. Today, that share has risen to 27%, while the share of children living apart from their mothers has increased only modestly, from 4% in 1960 to 8% in 2010. Read More »
I’m a bit late in posting this, but thought it worth posting a recent interview which I did with the brilliant and engaging Chrystia Freeland.
The main point is one I’ve explored here before: the fact that we are halfway to a lost decade. We also explore our longer-run malaise, and my concerns that long-term unemployment may impair our economic recovery. Read More »
On Friday I speculated that perhaps becoming a parent changed how I approach economics. To broaden the discussion, I posed the following thought experiment: what kind of economists would we be if we learned our economics only after we were parents?
The always-interesting Robin Hanson responded:
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I don’t need to speculate – I am exactly that kind of economist. I started econ grad school with two kids, ages 0 and 2, and had no undergrad econ… But none of that makes me doubt the value of neoclassical econ. How could it? First, econ makes sense of a complex social world by leaving important things out, on purpose – that is the point of models, to be simple enough to understand… Having an emotional parenting experience is as irrelevant to the value of neoclassical econ as having a mystical drug experience is to the validity of basic physics.
A social norm in Italy appears to be grandparents spending the day taking care of their pre-school grandchildren. Even grandfathers can be seen pushing infants around in carriages and entertaining them in public squares, something very rarely seen in the U.S. But social norms don’t just happen—they can be created and later altered by purely economic incentives. Italy has now increased its retirement age substantially, at the same time that the labor-force participation rate of women ages 25-54 has increased by over 20 percentage points. When today’s middle-aged Italian women have grandchildren it is unlikely that they will retire from their long-time careers, and thus unlikely that they will be available to care for grandchildren full time. The social norm of grandparent care is unlikely to exist in Italy in 25 years.