Things Our Fathers Gave Us (Ep. 34)
Father’s Day has a shamelessly commercial history. Some people think it was invented by the Associated Men’s Wear Retailers to push ties and socks. (It seems to have done a great job!) But we have a better idea: this year, send Dad a podcast. Our new Freakonomics Radio podcast, called “Things Our Fathers Gave Us,” (you can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player at the top, or read the transcript here) contains a Father’s Day trifecta. First, Steve Levitt talks about what he learned from his dad, good and bad:
LEVITT: Not everyone will agree that all the lessons my father taught me were the right ones. For instance, I learned from him that men don’t cry, ever. That’s a lesson I’ve tried to unlearn as an adult, but without much success. I can say this, however. Everything that is interesting about me today I owe to the mischief that my father and I engaged in when I was young.
Next, I share one of the best lessons I ever learned, over a diner meal with my dad, who taught me to play a game called Powers of Observation.
Finally, we hear from Joshua Gans, the Australian economist and author of Parentonomics: An Economist Dad Looks at Parenting. Gans offers a frank assessment of fatherhood:
GANS: I think ultimately it’s very interesting that one of the things that people have looked at is, of course, do babies and children make you happy? The evidence, as much as we can posit on that, is no…. So, we have to actually leave aside happiness as a reason to think about how people have children. And it’s not a very good guide either. If you’re expecting to be happy parenting, that’s going to be a bit of a shock to you.
The stories that Levitt and I tell can be found in printed form in the new paperback edition of SuperFreakonomics. The Gans interview is part of an upcoming hour-long Freakonomics Radio special called “The Economist’s Guide to Parenting.”
Happy Father’s Day to all who are eligible.