« Freakonomics Radio

39. The Economist’s Guide to Parenting

2011-08-16 | 🔗
Think you know how much parents matter? Think again. Economists crunch the numbers to learn the ROI on child-rearing.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This podcast dynamically inserts audio advertisements of varying lengths for each download. As a result, the transcription time indexes may be inaccurate.
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you're having a baby. Congratulations gray. Welcome wonderful world of parenthood, exhilarating challenging, probably more than anything, it's perplexing. Why one word experts, so many experts so much advice, not your eyes, you ever wonder how to raise children who are confident researchers, save nature, verses, nurture strong parental leadership. The first pediatrician, whose book really turned into a very popular man absolutely forbid the eating of bananas. He said there were poisonous, that's an holbrooke, she but a book called raising America, experts, parents and a century of advice about children. It's fair say that the advice has shifted a bit over time. I think the
ample that is the most notorious is behaviour has drawn brought us Watson whose book the psychological care of infinite child was a sensation in the late twenties. He said you know you should never kissed her charges should never hugger charges never put your child on your knee here, honey combing, the child with weakness, and he will not be able to face the harsh coal cruel world that I think probably takes the cake now now. What do we know about the scientific? findings of that argument, ditty. What was it assigned arguments at all or know? Well that particular bit of wisdom. There was no scientific argument
behind it at all. He surrounded it in his book with all kinds of suppose in science, about the absolute influence of parents and sort of behavioral conditioning on children, and he had a very famous experiment of teaching a child, a baby to fear a rapid, and it was not a good experiment, but it it was cited. In his book- and it was out of his example of you know if you present a furry creature and a very loud noise that scares a child and you do it often enough. You can inculcate a deep fear that will never go away and that was kind of the sensational version of the science that underpinned his view that parents are themselves the absolute and total moulders and shapers of their bills.
have. You thought it was bad in the twentieth century. You might want to stay out of the twenty first in a lot of places, parenting has become a competitive sport expert. Are everywhere, each of them sounding more confident than the last, even if their advice contradict one another contradicts themselves Sahara. Supposed to know, what's really good for kids How do we know what's worth worrying about and what's not that's easy, the economist I'm happy from the W and Y see and ATM american public media. This is Reaganomics radio. Today economists guide to parent here's your hopes, Stephen Dogma.
I know what you think you thinking What the economists, what can economists, but we have to say about something, emotional new wants as humane as parenting. Well, let me say this because a canvas necessarily emotional or for that matter, nuance, for humane? Maybe they are exactly the people we need to sort this through. Maybe I'm Steve Levitt for children Amandas Eleven Bolivia's, ten Nicholas's, eight in Sofia, seven too are adopted from China to our biological. We we almost have two sets of twins, although in each case one of a twin, this biological and the other is adapt from China. Steve Levitt is my free economics friend and co author over
past few years he and I have written quite a bit about parenting. I've got two kids. Solomon is ten an annual nine, but leave it means got his own approached parenting most him. His lazy could be investing in the kids are, I could be indulging my own hobby, and sleeping things. So I'm tournament laser mean, though the Roma have their foreheads. If you have too many kid You can't invested heavily in any one of them because you go crazy and so You know you leave some of the parenting to the oldest siblings, that you just hope that the schools will take care of it. But it's not like. I, Now, if you have an only child puts her eager to parents got one. Kid can lavish attention on them, but you have four kid: in one: wants I saw him. I want to play baseball. The other one wants to buy. The clarinet interest watch tv instead aptly. Let me know
strike you as the ideal parent, but don't worry he's not the only economist we're talking to. In fact, we put together a whole round table of them: hey guys, introduce yourself I am right happen. I'm a professor of economics at George Mason University, and I am the author of selfish reasons to have more kids. Why being great parent is less work and more for them. I am less the Carney amid the Economics Department at the Inverse Maryland, and I study government expenditure programmes and issues relevant mostly to low income populations in the? U S, you also a mom, I'm a man of three. I feel the way. I explain things to my kids. I hear an economist talking to them. I mean I explain everything to my kids in terms of opportunity cost and I said well you're, a minority which is too in the grocery store and unlike listen, you're making choices, and if you think that you don't get that honours right, there's a cost to your choices, and all here my son tell my daughter right there toddler speaking only like look, you made
bad choice. You know so I realized I talked to them. Like economists form actual Ganz, I'm a professor of economics at Noble Business school, I usually in Melbourne, Australia, but visiting at the moment, Microsoft. Research during my day job, I am and applied economist, more of a theoretical Ben, then a data driven bent, and otherwise I engage a normal part of life and I like to leverage my career as much as possible. So when it came to parenting, I ended up writing a book called parental dynamics and economists dad's parenting experiences. I'm Bruce Sacerdotal. I'm a professor of economics at Dartmouth, College Anna, National Bureau, economic research and I, teach finance here at Dartmouth by time, primarily a labour economist. I study kids, education and kids health income. Men know well being that sort of thing gotcha and on your professional website. You list yourself as a professional parent,
Well correct, yes right yet, and that probably is- I may even spend more hours on that. Then I do. Research, My name is Valor Raymie and I'm a professor of economics at the University of California, San Diego I'm married to a number professor of economists at the same department. His name is Gary Raymie and we are right and number of papers together. We have two children, a college age son whose twenty one who study engineering, although he whispered but an economics in high school. He decided to do something a little bit more applied, which is engineering. A daughter who is a junior in high school who at this point, isn't quite sure what she wants to study in college but she's thinking about, some economics just to see if it's any different from what she There is at the dinner table at home, so yours is the real rebel going into engineering. That's right rounding out the round table is another pair of mom and dad economists just and wool furs is
an Australian born professor at Wharton, Betsy Stephen, It was also important, is currently serving as chief economist for the Department of Labour in Washington DC. That's where I visited them and their absolute leap, a guiding nineteen months old, daughter, Matilda Ere, I chair, first of all, just in and I met as graduate students and economics and we started studying issues related to the family right away like as soon as we started dating, we actually started. Research on divorce. The very puzzling way to start very sexy and the first stir paper we have a road together was about their relationship, the ability to get divorced and avoiding violence in relation, and so finding was that the door reforms that allowed one person to unilaterally walk out of a really
chip saves lives, it reduced women, committing suicide, reduced women getting killed by their partners, reduce domestic. I once more broadly now are the two of you married no we're not you're a failure and knew the answer. Our rights. I did notice, Stevenson and wilfers aren't actually married. They refer to each other's partners rather than husband and wife. I am. The person in the household manages all of our money said just a nice. They do followed the old household by civilization rules, but we do it much more narrowly. So just in does I t I do money just in does diapers I d breast eating and when it comes to money. I quickly realized tat. Pretty lay as young people the costs of being married outweighed any of that benefits when it comes to financial costs, particularly as to people who have similar careers and therefore similar earnings, the tax
I still want to pay the marriage penalty yet would have been substantial. So what are you save a year by not being married over twenty thousand dollars here, while you could set I have another kids and into private school fuel costs. People are pause at a wedding, asked him how much they think what they are about to do is worth and then tell him of. The price tag is the easiest. Marriage is an institution that people and get in and out a very easily doesn't actually serve the purpose. Most people wanted to do so. What couple usually twenty when they marry, is trying to make it difficult to leave women fostering the bond then illegal contract, which we have a daughter, you can't category and that door, right on cue, makes it incredibly difficult or expensive. Wristwatch that's much stronger the marriage certificate once they decide to have a child Stevenson started training, and she puts a lot of running eating organic
reading up on population and all kinds of medical and behaviour literature in a way we approached getting pregnant. Like any other project, we done, I attempted I spent four months getting I went to the doktor for a check up. This was born in written form before I wanted my idea, I went and got a check up all the medical tests I needed. I started train. You mean her pregnancy when his journey now include besides running prenatal vitamins running In writing. I was an that involve charting fig my cycle of regulation and do all these data exist in exile, spreadsheets somewhere in this very house right now, yeah conception is just the beginning, once the baby arrived Stevenson and wilfers put everything they knew as economists into being a mom and dad?
lesson number one: division of labour, the natural ludlows eyebrows spend ass. It did diapers so to put an economics language Betty does inputs. I do up and an you did diapers, because it's not the corollary somehow of breastfeeding. That was actually pity argument that it was done have two major remembered. Somebody has to do outputs. It's basically the same. same amount, know it in its basically what's coming out. I will say it: actually now advise my mail friends that they should put up their hand for this job, but you can say shit. You advise you, my friends, that they should learn to be there the recipes that does look even more fun, though it's a nice time to spend with you kid actually, when they're really young it's from the few times. Those don't make eye contact with you give a test. They, like you, have in that role. So as much as I thought bit is taking advantage of me
superior bargaining ability. Getting me to do that. I hold my brother in law that he should do the same thing, and I think he did now offers Stevenson are both busy professionals, which means that Matilda would be spending a fair amount of time with a babysitter could they have hired a perfectly nice for, the competent nanny for fifteen bucks an hour the early, I could have said You guys hired a nanny who was public. Who is extremely skilled as as a man he s and beyond right, and I think that it is getting the same kind of upbringing. Intellectual stimulation, as if we were at home, raising her and I think, there's a certain level of comfort and that the last squid Elam gets paid a fifty thousand. Ellen does more than just watch after Matilda you can good job.
The sole Matilda is already learning rabies, but it doesn't stop. the one randomized trial that we actually did read had a huge impact on us, which was teaching baby sign language, and it turns out that this is a great way of increasing. If I kept before their speaking, skills kick in and Matilda speaks language and has been able to sort of communicate. You know whether she wants Algeria, is that a you know now, Nora you. I'm is six months now, but you know pre verbal. Here we made that a priority. What kind of classes such events destinies applies? How many lives we could see these classes one day later, she goes to art class. We got one daily and
she goes to preschool prep pass reproducing the proper price until those leaving the house here today. It certainly months of age or said Matilda. This is your first day of human capital accumulation. You you can finish when you twenty so how much you? the capital, will Matilda accumulate by the time she's twenty seven in and here's the hard part how much of that human capital will be because of what her parents did verses. Who, parents were I mean. That's the central issue here right in the never ending nature, verses, nurtured debate, genes versus environment, what we really want to know is how much influence do parents have on their kids once the kids are out of the way. What? How confident are you I mean you guys are making a lot of choices from organic food and sign language and all kinds of behave. All things how confident
are you that you are investments are forget about optimal, even worthwhile not at all. Come to pardon me, professor, Not at all conflict? Here's the thing as much as wool furs Stevens and sound like your typical, obsessive, sweat, the small stuff micromanaging parents. They actually agree with rest of our economies round table on one crucial in quite surprising fact: parents just don't matter as much as we think they do here's Joshua Ganz again said my? U not! Having now experienced twelve argius, I don't think they matter a huge amount and Brian In all honesty, I do sometimes think here one of my kids don't turn out well and that everyone blames me and
I would still say: well the data to say it was gonna happen anyway in Steve level. One of the things that I think he's true is that obsessive parenting has she rework? What are they talking about what do these economist mean when they say that parents, don't matter very much evidence to back up this, dont Gillis claim, yes, they do coming up from education to income to drinking, smoking will hear what the data say about how much influence parents really have
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from W and Y see an eight p M american public media. This is for economics, radio, here's, your host, Stevens Abner. So for talking about parenting, why on earth we want to listen to a communists, will their different species of economists, your sea level. There are two kinds of economists are macro. Economists, and there are micro, come soon macro economy. They studied the big questions: inflation, financial crisis, Michael. Conversely, those people like me, you do something very different. We focused on individual choices on behaviour on on how incentive affect what people do and how you can data to try to test hypotheses about whether our sympathies turn out to be right or not like this teaching a baby sign language really increase your chances of success or are the kind
parents who are likely to teach their baby sign language going to have successful kids anyway, because their high iq parents now with something like parenting, establishing cause and effect. Is really hard. There are so many inputs and kids life genes, environment, school friends, it's hard to know how each of them affects the outputs. So economists think, if only we could run experiments on kids, we do with lab rat, but since they can not yet it is the best can do, is look for an accidental expand, Bruce Sacerdotal, the economist dead from Dartmouth, went looking for such an experiment in adoption data. I hunted it huh
They hunted and I talk to a wide variety of adoption agencies and there. The thing that really latched onto was my conversations with the Holt Adoption agency. They are the biggest places of adoptees into U S, families and they were among the first to place korean adoptees American families, if you're trying to tease apart nature and nurture adoption, is an experiment, but the whole adoptions were particularly good for this purpose. Harry and birth a whole were organ farmers who, after that, We in war helped place korean orphans with american families. Their policy first come first served which meant that orphans were adopted into all kinds of families, not just high income families or higher education families. They do it in a process. Debts, to all intents and purposes, read as though that got economists excited the bay point being that we have a sample of adult adoptees for whom they were effectively
randomly assigned to their adoptive parents, and that was the big deal not study as such sir note was digging into the adoption Data Ryan Kaplan he's a guy who wrote self, reasons to have more kids? He was reading every piece of twins research he could find, he'd end up having twin boys himself, but fascination predated the birth of the simplest way too when it is not there is actually to counter twins. You gotta, nickel twins, all their genes, fraternal twins, sure half of their genes. So if I didn't twins are more similar than fraternal twins. We could use that fact to measure how much genes actually matter, and once we ve done that we can actually see how this room if any, is left for parents to be mandatory and sounds very sensible, so far sounds like you're trying to isolate cause and effect, which, in a typical case, is hard because you're not going to even a guy like you, you had twins, even you, an economist who wants to know answers, you're, not gonna ship off onto your twins, two some strangers family too, to see
that child comes up differently than than you other identical twins, but you're using these kind of accidental experiments are shocks to the system to isolate. What's going on exactly now turns out over the last forty years. Basically, every trade, the parents care about release that every trade that that some more than a handful of parents care about has been studied by researchers and a lot of different fields using these methods. So, if too births and adoptions or accidental experiments that yield useful data. What do those it. I have to say about the influence of parents, the most important question which sacerdotal after immediately was about educational achievement. Let's say a low iq. Kid is adopted into a high iq. Family you'd expect the parents to significantly boost the kids. I q right, but some earlier research, sacerdotal red, suggested that adoptive parents weren't that influential this is a luminous literature, saying things very much like that, which is that
Yes, some influence of adoptive parents on adoptees IQ, course but its small, and they also claim it goes the zero as the adoptees get older, but with the good career and adoption data sacerdotal with pretty sure he'd poke holes in that research. There's one thing that parents have to effect, I mean just judging from how much effort we put into it. It's our kids, educational achievements, right So he sliced and placed the korean Data Entry did fine parental what is not quite as big as I expected to find, but how big is not quite as big in the most disadvantaged families, where the parents were college educated, the adopted were sixteen percentage points more likely to attend college, then adoptees in the least privileged families where the parents work college graduates. That sounds pretty good right. Sixteen percentage, but the biological, kids and the families with knowledge, educated parents.
we're. Seventy five percentage points more likely to go to college than the biological kids in the low education family suddenly makes the adoptive parents six. In percentage point influence, look kind of puny, so no its findings made a big impression on brine, Kaplan based Please average result was that, if you are good, bye, mom with one more year of education. You the adopt originally finished about five extra weeks. Vegetation the amendment I have about ten extra years to boost year by year, everyone I talk we consider that a small fact made some most people. When I said so, what would you consider to be a large of act? They said one year later, educational had to boost six months like not for weeks, and it was just education that parents than seem to effect so much income to come when analyze data from twin studies, as well as sacerdotal adoption research, those results or even more surprising, Crean orphans were adopted in the fifties and Sixtys
at a time when it is much easier for low families to adopt amendment striking. That is the kind of thing think of as being more about up I mean broadly defined that a lot of other traits show me to get could be that it's actual upbringing or your parents in the value of a dollar and hard working you or it could be something more like nepotism where, because you, raised by the right kind of parents, you get good connections or they actually make a phone call for you and yet actually very best. Studies of the nature inertia of income finds. That's your parents, who have EVA every modern, moderate effect on your early and come you're, you're twenties, but basically zero for the rest, I've come on no effect on income puny but once on education, fewer apparent, especially the kind hands on parent who thinks horrid about every input in your kids life every flash car Museum visit every I condo lesson in God forbid-
video game, you ve gotta, be thinking. Oh man he's economists are full of crap. One of the things that I think he is true. Is that obsessive parenting has a few rewards. That's my co author, again Steve Levitt. he and another economists, Roland Friar, annulled is data from a survey by the. U S, government that tracks kids from birth through grade school. How strong was a relationship between parental activity in school, test, scores, it doesn't matter how many activities your kids do. where did they go to museums at did that, at least in terms of academic success in the biggest national representative sample of data that the government has a reckless rolling friar and I could find no Evans said those sort of parental choices that, but what we come to call from the obsessive parents of pudding
in the ballet kind of culture cramming and put together and that none of that can be correlated at all with academic success, and my guess is if- and this is just appear guess is that when it comes to happiness of kids, the thick cramming is it's gotta, be negatively core with happen? If I being rushed from one event to the others is not the way most kids wanna live their lives, at least not my kids Let's argument is simple and sobering, matters most is whose parents are not what they do during all the culture. Cramming advice and parenting book won't have much effect, but the kind of parents who are likely to buy parenting books and do all that you're cramming their high, achieving parents to start with, and those are the qualities high. I q good health. termination and so on. The kids inherit, but
I telling that to a modern parent, even an economist parent, so in the nineteen eightys. The average young college educated mother spent thirteen hours per week on China care? That's Valerie, Raymie again she and her it's been Gary? Also an economist, analyzed, it is from the american time you survey now its twenty two hours a week, so the amount of time increased by nine hours a week, nine hours, ethics that seventy percent in Greece as a huge increase, its a huge increase. Now its interest, is over this same time period, the wages of color, educated women have really increased, so the opportunity cost of time is increased at this
in time, they decided to spend more time taken care of their children. So to an economist like you, that has to be a little bit baffling yes, yes, it is a puzzle, after declining for decades, the amount of time that parents spent on childcare started to rise in the ninety nine these and then skyrocketed in the two thousands, especially among college, educated man. Why the rabies found a surprising answer. How is specifically the increased competition for kids to get into good, colleges, these high and parents. They weren't simply babysitting they were, offering their kids to the kind of extracurricular activities that look good my college application, the ring means called it. The rug One of the strangest part Valerie Raymie was a prime offender until her family put a stop to it.
and six hours a week at Pre stables with my daughter. and I'm not. She enjoyed the horseback writing flood. It was also stressful to have you know. Somebody else determine our schedules for us particular, since both my husband, I work full time and There is the brown ease and softball, and what was state of mind generally during this period, where you are doing a lot of chauffeur in kind of activists mommy. What did it did it make you happy? Did it make you tents it I'd? It did not make me be, it did make me tents. Fortunately, my family, rebelled against me, because I felt we needed to do this, because this sort of everybody else is doing now before too often decide the good parenting is a complete waste of time. Consider a couple of areas, We're economists have found parents to be very influential smoking.
Kids, who grow up around parents who smoke and drink are much more likely to do so himself? I asked Bruce Sesar do about this, so if I'm a smoker, I'm apparently smokes, and I think that smoking is bad which would probably describe alot of smoke. and I dont want my kids to smoke and I've got let's say ten hours of time or a hundred dollars or what not and I've got to decide how to and that ten hours or a hundred dollars a year when we based on what you ve seen in the research that it would probably be better for me to spend those hours in dollars. Trying to quit smoking then it would be tried to cram in some extra reading time, library or what not know that's Epps
right if you're sitting there reading to them wall smoking for cigarettes, I think from the average on all kinds of level soda. That's actually write. Another thing that proper, undoubtedly contagious, is the behaviour of how you interact with how you treat other people You treat employees at a restaurant or a retail stores. I think those things are probably highly contagious as well, and things You really want a mile carefully at an end, and it just like in the smoke Therefore, you can make yourself better off as well as setting a good example for your great, so we finally find something that parents do influence and its smoking drinking and talking to the Waitress O K. Well, at least parents are really good at protecting their kids right, keeping them safe from all other dangerous stuff out there right, like kidnapping,
that it's worth thinking about more than more than you should think about being struck by lightning or something like that. Here's brain Kaplan again, the FBI has just takes on what are called stereotypical kidnappings, which basically like some strange foregoing and taking your kid from you from somebody, said: distance and holding the child of knights and leant Atilla case. You often something very bad will happen, but that's really in the range like one to two hundred per year summits, it literally as a one in a million annual event. so, which is something that is not sensible to worry about, and if you find your worrying about it, even though you know that is not sensible. Ah, this is something where I I commend going in reading about how you can cure yourself with anxiety problems rather than try to bring em, take action to reduce
this illusory risk and then their guns, of course, you're, Steve Levitt. If there's one thing that terrifies parents, its guns, the thought of their child, going to have a play date at a house with their begun, many parents would say no way, but there's one object that parents should fear a hundred times more than the gun, although they don't and that's a swimming pool, because this statistic say that if your child spends a day had a house, it has both a gun in a swimming pool. The law could you child dies is a hundred times creativeness when people that it is from the gun and skiing is scary right. So I don't know if it's one of these evolutionary biology things, but we take our kids skiing, for example- and I know skiing is inherently risky and I never used to be worried about sitting on the chair. That's me security from the university Maryland. She never used.
be a scary cat, then she became apparent swept up in the fear parade. But when I sitting on the challenge of my kids, could barely breathe, I'm so scared of them falling off. Then she takes a deep breath and reminds yourself but human, beings terrible risk assessments in general and no one worsen cited. As I tell myself, you know, I'm not gonna, not teach me hence to ski, which I think is a really fun activity to protect them from their small risk. Right. If something terrible happens, you know up, it would be hard to forgive myself, but try and remember that everything has trade offs and dumb. The chances are nothing's going to happen. People don't we fall off careless and an output, though, have a lifetime lovers. Skiing, the fact is, parenting is an exercise in risk. Assessment is Betsy Stevenson. Again, I think the hardest thing is apparent is to admit that you get it
risks with your child's life to actually made out loud. I take risks with my child life, meaning if you said that Cocktail party people would look at you like you're a monster, but of course we take, their lives every day. I take Matilda out on to the sidewalk and we cross streets? Every time we cross the street were taking a risk, it's not risk free across the street or to ride the subway or to go in a car? Almost everything we do has risks and economists sitting just in, and I are really comfortable with thinking about risk, making decisions with them, and that means we have to face the really painful thing which is we take risks? Will our child Joshua Ganz, our australian friend, you wrote parent dynamics, he's proud to admit that he's taken risks with his kids life, but not how you might think we would go to the pact tribe, who was hopefully around four, would invariably not want to leave
so we would have this makes and dance about, you know we have to go now. You can't keep applying, should run off It would be ill, be costly. Let's let me put it that way, so what we did, what is worsening and she was doing it again and we said we keep threatening the we'll just. Why don't we get in the car and justly and so we set out you come go, we gotta get in the car and driver and that is actually what we You run about full part about appearances. Well, we had I screaming child running after us. Going nuts Don't leave me exactly to get that message across now, too, should you know well that might have been obvious to the other parents standing there and tell you. It was a tough thing for us to do that
another family at the pack, who was going to at least watch out that she didn't do something silly as a result of this like Runnel to arrive or something like that, so we would totally crazy, but then again we did DR awfully child thinking she had been left behind and what happened and what happened the next time that she wanted to stay at the park. Longer never ever happens again. Never ever had out are the problem. Whereby sadism works? are you got. You know at some top point. You ve gotta, raise the price enough. You gonna be credible. I mean you know, that's the dispatch the economist, says you drew out a tax. I guess I've become some hard line hawk. In that regard, you know so occasionally we break from social more eyes, but we only had to do at once What a bunch of misanthrope unloving, uncaring, ungrateful parents, these economists are well,
quite coming up, the importance of being I'm leaving your seventies, whether or not your parents kind to you stay with you. Any identical twins. Fraternal twins have similar and quite high levels of agreement on these questions, which is smoking gun for nurture, really matter. Fr Economics radios brought to you by square. If you run a business know how important it is to have a healthy cash flow. That's why you take payments with square either in person or online. You get your money fast access it instantly the square card, free business debit card or transfer?
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I'll, be thinking about all those hours all those years that parents spend trying to improve their kids years, just don't add up too much, but it all depends on your attitude. Why did you become a parent in the first place? To make yourself happy to give someone else, the gift of life, to get a solid return on your parental investment. Bruce Sesar do before he wound then academia rent a hedge fund. I asked him what kind of a return parents should expect expect low ya. Think modern Treasury bells ear low a low, and you won't be too pointed I think the return is it's gonna be happiness as opposed to necessarily cash flow remittances back. The first thing is: don't be afraid to invest up until the marginal return is zero.
so you don't wanna, be investing the point with as a negative Marshall return for you, you're not only chewing up a lot of time at your turn, your kids off to what would otherwise be a great, an intellectual and and and fun thing you over invested the point where you ve made you and your themselves miserable, so he see you don't want to go negative, you dont have a negative return on these things are so high well. Did these economists follow their own advice? We You know Valerie Raymie get sucked into the very regret re. She was studying what about Joshua Ganz, the parent economics author? Well, let me ask you this Joshua, if I'm not prying, what forms of insurance to you by. I have life insurance. I have disability insurance. We of course, have here in the U S so we're paying out of pocket for health insurance that isn't man, yes, homeowners, insurance, yes, homeowners, insurance, car insurance,
so what you're describing now, which is engaging in a bunch of parental behaviors, that the data say are not well while is really you're just buying another form of insurance. Aren't you well I'm buying hypothetical insurance I mean. I know it's health insurers what I'm getting for that site. The people gets paid for If we're gonna be doing piano lessons on one hundred percent, sure that's what's come together, then Joshua, the children. Do you and your wife have so we have three, the twelve tenant six girls and boys, How many of them have taken piano lessons or three? It's so depressing. I have to because we rely on people like you to represent the disinterested view to me, unimpassioned assessment of the way things are and the way we think things
and you often show in your research that the way things are quite different than the way we think things are, and we want you as economists to behave as your data preaches just as we want. You know a man of the cloth to behave as the energy and the sacred texts breach. What does it say out the human mind even use written a book on this is unable to break. The ties that society presents to you is this is the way it must be done. Well, you know this is the difference between the positive and the normative your right as a normative acted for the good of showing society the White again, of course, I should do those things but as a normal, selfish economic, rational person, firstly from. I really doubt what I really want to have to deal with that not even to do what objectively might actually help the YAP happiness, and perhaps the
the well being of my child. Apparently I'm willing to stick with the social mores on men. So even economists, you know we can say these things publicly, but doing them is very, very hard. The social she's a there. Let's go back to our Washington DC, coupled marriage tax, dodging Betsy Stevenson, and just in wilfers I asked him if there were an obsessive parenting index from zero to ten, how they rate themselves aspiration. We were three reality were not and should not suffer, so I want to be suitably clear rate, so, as I like to take, the city will talk about that gap happen. What what lives in that get whipped. Pretty sure that some large chunk of that gap isn't that productive. Like his apparent you can wander around fretting about every friggin thing that could happen to you kid
I'm just on a kind of safety level or also like an achievement and happiness level and so on it also in achieving happiness level for us, the trade offs, not so bad in and so in. What are we doing to weaken we get to the Smithsonian without sounds like the most type, a parent you could be. The truth is I love, spinning, torment, Matilda, wouldn't matter positive baseball game, the Smithsonian sitting at home, it's just every instance of joy and the Smithsonian said of a bit of a distraction for all of us, and it doesn't actually matter it's free and it's free net you're, absolutely right! So we get. We do all this stuff that you would do is a Taipei parent bit. When are you gonna talk to Brain Kaplan? Rightly talks a lot about. You know Donnelly's expensive things. It's not expensive to us, but we do too expensive things, although I think we'd
think that their necessary. We understand that they're, nice, so Matilda goes to lot classes. She likes her classes, you know, buying organic food use or some other shots about defining nebula. Let s talk about the food, so tell me the foods that she does not eat meat, any kind of sugar, any kind of sugar exceed fruits, let us now and she didn't drink Piercy. So has she ever eaten? A donut now reads: she's, like a total Berkeley, Hippy, never in a piece of cake. Now, peace, a candy down or there now? What do you think he's gonna happen? Her first like Snickers bar we're in trouble, pretend for a minute that we wanted to distil everything. The economists have taught us and started array quality based parenting movement, who should be its president. Unfortunately, Loafers Stevenson represent job origin,
sure, Ganz or Valerie Raymie I'd, say it's Atossa between Steve Levitt, who says he's lazy by natures that works in his favor and Brian Kaplan. Mainly, again to the title of captains book selfish reasons to have more kids? Why being the great parent is less work and more fun than you think, I mean just listen to the man's defence of tell us he will call them electronic babysitters if it's a bad thing, but you baby again, nothing wrong with the electronic so meaning in the idea that, like us out, there's some awful harm done when you're, when you're children watch tv or play video games and yelling no evidence of that saw that they enjoy it, and it gives you a chance to relax and get a little peace and quiet and do and do your own thing or get some work done. No reason to feel guilty about it and I'm united actually go further and say, like specially Ah there there. There really is a lot of fantastic culture on television and video games. I would be sad if my kids didn't like the Simpsons,
even more so than if they didn't like opera port What motivated Kaplan to write his book was a new I'll have research suggesting that on average becoming apparent robs you happy, but it is true that people who have kids a little bit less happy than otherwise it ethical people, dont have kids as Kaplan sees it parent. Make themselves unhappy by pressing out over any in everything. So what does Brian Kaplan? parenting. Make overlook. Laziest death is just getting rid of the stuff that nobody likes, that you're doing based upon some a loser. A long run benefit like you, go to karate and that'll teach you discipline and then you'll do better in school, and then you get a new good school and then you become an investment banker. all the karate right? So we can, but I also go further and say: look even if you're cute, like an activity, if you don't like it, it's ok to say, look what I can do as much of it. I am taking a soccer, but we still use illegal people. Take it seriously
and yet we I mean if this prevent you from becoming the next pay, lay that's too bad. But it's really am I they said was not worried about it. Brian. If you had to pick one activity, I realize You probably don't have any actual date on this, but if you had to pick one activity that you suspect has the biggest overlap of lack of enjoyment of parent and child. What do you think that activity would be musical us yours is between the hourly commitment is so large and yet and in end the fight that periods have their parents overdoing it seemed to be so interminable, and I also know that my dad was forced into piano lessons until he was sixteen and hate. As a result, the slightest Such a story, whereas I'm actually so before my parents never had. We inevitably to single music lesson, and I love music, and I think that if
forced me to that actually might, I might have actually rebelled and disliked it, which is a kind of parenting factory, all the way, perverse one. Many of you mean the idea that they, like you, because you love music, you want to push you to become musician, makes about as much sense a saying I love action movie. So many push my kid we can muster man I can understand. If I now, you think, Brine Kaplan is just a cook. Some kind of an anew feeling and nurturing monster and economics textbook made incarnate? But the fact is, he is his eyes on a different kind of parenting prize. It's not achievement! He's after its cry here. It's warp There's this great swedish Wednesday where our people and the twins were but were in their fifties and Sixtys and Seventys leave when you're in your seventies, whether or not your parents. And do you stay with you? Any identical, twins, fraternal twins,
have similar and quite high levels of Raymond on these questions, which is smoking gun for foreigner, surely mattering, so the way your kids I feel about you. Remember you You have so another way likes idea like the quality, the relationship. This is where you really have an effect and where it is, very long lasting it really does last lifetime and that's what your child, like a science project, is just going to make you happy you're just the same way, if you marry someone saying look step, one is amid a totally changed the person after I marry him or her. That is a recipe for disaster, is probably going to work and it's going to release our relationship. Is people like being treated like that makes people it makes people on you feel bad about themselves and feel bad about you. If you're York, certain is to turn them into something from what they are. So this the kind of thing where, if you really can just a dot. You're like except a little humility realise. Look you in the strategy separate person in me the child is gonna, want differ I want an that's: ok, that's so that that is part of the beauty of a human being
you ve, got to admit Brian kaplan- might seem crusty on the outside, but man once you get beneath the surface, but a softy, endlessness, Steve Levin self proclaimed, lazy, dad who says obsessive parenting This way we overrated there's a lot of research on unwanted this and is tremendous historical dataset from social science. Less philosophy its existence? If you mother doesn't love you nothing that will happen you and so the lowest common denominator for having a kid who turns out. Well he's a kid be in love, If I were president for day, maybe dictator for a day one of the first things that I might do would be to make it harder to be apparent to make the stand. To be impairing more difficult, I mean you should have to demonstrate some proficiency parenting. Perhaps to be a pale. You need to get licence. Let's say I mean we made. People prove that can parallel part before then get a driving licence.
Maybe we should make people prove that they can interact productive way in teaching their kids. Not this nothing more on America than intervening in the family, people just hate the idea of government looking over their shoulders and time them Harvey penny. not a bit government guy bigger, but on the other hand, I magic there being a sensible set of things that you'd want to do to make sure that people were ready to be fair it. I think we all agree that parental licensing isn't bound to happen. Any time soon, nor should it, but you can see where love it's going with this, can't you we probably could all agree on a sensible set of things. You'd want to do to be apparent heavy drinking and smoking and hitting your kids not sensible, but on the other end of the spectrum fuelling the regret
and turning into obsessive parents, probably also not sensible. The evidence suggests that obsessive parenting tends to make parents less happy and, at the end of the day, the best parent probably the happiest spare. That's what Stevenson and wilfers figured out. In fact we were trying to get pregnant writing a paper on women's happiness, and I kept cutting the data to try to find myself in the data say I won't get less happy. Let me find mid thirties woman with a ph d with no high household income. Would
want to start show that people like me, don't get less happy, and I couldn't find that I found that the happiness hit was much smaller than it would be, for you do a twenty year old, high school dropout who was having a becoming a single mom for sure I mean I think we made the the leap fully informed nowhere. You may believe thinking what thinking that there's a there's a happiness penalty to pay and were willing to pay for the for the experience of seeing if it's not so bad, make us some terribly known, rational, yeah, I guess I like it. I get too many, I'm thirty eight! I don't get too much longer to figure it out
the bottom line is that the data still suggests that people with the kids are less happy. Then people without, even even though among people like us. Happiness had a smaller, it does suggest, are less happy. So then, why would I do something that I said will look I mean you guys by the autumn, irrational fear, an economist I mean you are trained. Well, at least you do you soon rationality and most people and one would assume that one who assumes rationally most people practices rationality herself just a joke about the Taipei things we do, but we don't actually have a Taipei attitude towards raising until the. If you know. If we feel that going out to dinner and it's not organic shall eat off our played. That's fine. We know that these things don't matter that much. We China
we we ve traveled with her extensively. We figure she's, pretty robust and- and I think that we have to not to let ourselves have a lot of anxiety over parenting, and I figured that that was part of what was behind this lack of happiness. Was this as in the anxiety in the guilt that people felt and if we could parent without that, then perhaps we wouldn't be less happy. I guess it all comes down to expectations and to me one basic question: why have kids in the first I asked our round table why they decided to become parents? Here's Bruce Sacerdotal what I could surely tell you what we had children number two and three, which is that I really eyes or weep Rita. I think my wife already knew this, but I realized. Oh, my goodness. This is the greatest adventure ever. This is so much fun. It's so interesting, you learned so much from them and you get to do
those things that you wanted to hatred that you haven't got introduce it. You were ten and you do it with someone who actually looks up to you and thinks that wants to take advice from you. I don't think so. It's just a tremendous adventure and Brian Kaplan I Would you like me before I actually started having kids, that I started feeling something that is unusual men feel so I actually started getting what psychologists call baby fever. Where I have these, No feelings like I need to go and have a little child and teach him stuff and racism and do things with him so mean I actually do this kind of whole in my heart right when I started wanting have kids when I send you went round thirty Many of the other thing is all I have a childish personality. I just like doing things the kids like doing I'd like cartoons on a comic book site, but I'd like games. We I we're late well the kids in any way, I feel like a really better to kids into adults or adults who died so boring on board is to something fun and with kids you don't have that union
other conflict usually is going. Ok I'll, do something fun and Steve. Let it just because I'm economy doesn't mean. I can't be deceived by evolution just as strongly as someone else I mean I think, if you both to me when I was with my kids, I be justice and happiest next guy, but still in my hand, I float around thinking it's great to have four kids self deception. It's a wonderful, powerful force, yeah, a wonderful, powerful force for me that pretty much sums up pointing to so before we go. Let me just say one thing to little: Matilda enter level, it's a Libya manned and Nicholas and Sophie, and to the kid the other economies we heard from today Salmon LEO and two Sophia's aid
interest in and Simon Sean and Michel, William and Adelaide, your parents are screened. People August without was strong. feelings about? What's best for you, which is for the most part. We view alone, so it was all a favourite with ten years from now and then again in twenty years and again in thirty and forty give us a call, tell us how things worked out. Would you let us know if the sign language paid off and the piano lessons in and what that first sneakers tasted yeah small for economics, radios, use by W and Y see a PM american public media and governor productions. Our producers include Kate ROPE, Susie liked him
Chris nearer Diana Win and calling Campbell. This episode was makes by David Herman. You can subscribe to a podcast of this programme and read more for economic set for economics. Dot com, so we're sitting here, my friend persuasive, we just Buddha trust each other. I felt really whom you ran away. its born in the USA and in spite of my original podcast from higher ground, listen free, online Spotify
Transcript generated on 2021-03-17.