The Economist's Guide to Parenting: Economist Kids Photo Gallery

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 SacerdoteMelissa 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!



Beautiful families, all around!

Steve Levitt, until I read the caption, I assumed you had four younger children and a teenage daughter.

Adrienne S

Interesting - 3 out of your 6 contributors have daughters named "Sophia" (or some variation - i.e. Sophie) - Kearney, Sacerdote & Levitt. All these girls are under the age of 11 -

One of the families who do not have a "Sophia" - does have a daughter (the Ramey family) - but she is considerably older than the oldest Sophia.

In your original "Freakconomics" book - "Sophie/a" was listed as a projected "Most Common Name for 2015" - 2015 being the time all of these girls will be in school.

Zofia was listed as #16 in the "Twenty White Girl Names That Best Signify High Education Parents"

Food for thought!

Sofia Sacerdote

I just wanted to clarify that my name is actually spelled with an F. In 1999, the year I was born my name was ranked #195.


Two Sophies and a Sophia--an aberration?

dave gershner

Parenting is a good parallel as to how people would handle the money the government would give them in Paul Ryan's approach to doing away with medicare.

The poor, uneducated, undereducated and those with bad luck would do a terrible job with Ryan's approach to helping the aged through their costly health problems, just as they don't do a very good job now at parenting, e.g., truancy, school dropouts, high teen age drug use, etc.

With bad parenting society is stuck with the bill in more police, more prisons, more lawlessness and weaker communities.

With Ryan's health care financing we would have larger and more expensive charity hospitals for the states to pay for, a less healthy society, and the shame put on us by ourselves and others in advanced countries at how we treat the elderly in the U. S.

Ryan might not care today, but most people's children and grandchildren would find their own assets sorely depleted by paying for the health costs previously paid for by Medicare.

Congressman Ryan supposedly works out and has a great body, but don't count on his help as your children's money flies out to pay for parents/grandparents expensive health costs. You aren't likely to allow them to lie in the streets waiting for a gurney in the charity medical centers.

More proof of the sub par intelligence of leading republicans and their lack of compassion for the future health of the country and the deleterious effects they will have on your children's wealth.


Greg D

While I agree with the ideas expressed in the podcast that excessive parent-managed childhood activities probably do not contribute to either the child's happiness or success, I wonder how to square that notion with the fact that some children do take to certain activities and like them. The world's greatest pianists were probably dragged to piano lessons as children, eventually found that they enjoyed music, and make careers out of something they enjoy. If the dragging never took place because parents were worried about over-programming their children, where would the great musicians, dancers, etc. come from?

Ken Lee

Kids are much better looking that I suspected. OK, they are adorable and worth educating & spoiling until the budget busts.


Loved it - convinced me not to get married...


The broadcast makes it sound like economists are the only ones who have examined parenting and the nature/nurture issue, including twin studies. Are economists really better equipped than the psychologists and geneticists who have produced reams of research on these subjects? Do they deserve even a nod?


I just listened to this episode of the podcast and have one piece of info... An experiment was done where they took two female mice and impregnated them.

Mouse 1 was healthy, mentally and physically.
Mouse 2 was depressed.

When the females gave birth, the scientists swapped litters and had the genetically healthy mice raised by Depressed Mamma and Depressed Mice raised by Healthy Mamma.

When the mice grew up, the mice raised by the depressed Mom were unhealthy, antisocial, and abnormal... Their development had been altered by mentally ill mom to the point where eve3n their coloration was altered.

The mice raised by healthy Mom were just slightly below average.

The epigenomic development of the mice was dramatically altered by their upbringing and environment.

? NOVA Science Now - Topic: The Epigenome:
? BBC Horizon: The Ghost in Your Genes:

This has been shown time and again to be the case in humans, too. Unhealthy mothers produce children that are less likely to succeed at school and their "Template" for what to be was unhealthy, resulting in poor school and work performance and inability to maintain healthy intimacy.

Genetics play a HUGE roll in how a person turns out, but part of that is their epigenomic development that is altered by environmental.



The podcast mentions that people who have children are less happy than people without children. Has anyone checked whether this holds throughout life or does it just apply when they have actual children in the home? I wonder if having children means that older people have more close connections to other people and are happier as they age. Are people with grandchildren happier than people who never had children?

K Thompson

Really enjoy the podcasts!

Re: Parents being less happy... that just doesn't ring true. Yes, I've seen lots of parents who are very concerned with what ever their child's current challenge is. But try to take these children away from those same *unhappy* parents. That's when I think you'd see real unhappiness, not just backdoor bragging at how hard it is to be a parent.

For example: I'm told my father-in-law didn't have any interest in his kids until they were old enough to play chess. Now that his adult children are living all over the world the one thing he wants is to be near them. The greatest joy of his life are his children, and he's a lovely father-in-law. I cannot imagine most people being happy without their children and grandchildren.