Navigating Healthcare – Patient Safety and Personal Healthcare Management

Parenting advice from Economists – essential advice for all parents

Posted in Uncategorized by drnic on December 16, 2011

The great thing about podcasts is the gems that turn up unexpectedly in the listening queue. The Freakaonmics podcast on “The Economist’s Guide to Parenting” was one of those for me and not only did I laugh a lot I learnt a lot.

You can download the podcast here or listen to it here

A round table of economists who despite having the insight of data and the ability to analyse that data are still unable to behave rationally when raising their own children.

The data suggests that most of parenting has little impact on the eventual outcome – with the exception of personal habits (smoking and drinking for instance) and personal behavior (how you treat other people for example)

You see that children are picking up their parents’ smoking and drinking habits with a very high degree of correlation, and it’s the same with the adoptees and the non-adoptees, they really pick up their parents’ habits, those type of habits explicitly. Another thing that’s undoubtedly contagious is that behavior of how you interact, how you treat other people, how you treat employees at a restaurant, or a retail store or something. I think those things are probably highly contagious as well.

Nurturing is the most important behavior. But when it comes to their future parents have a very limited effect in the early years and by the time the child reaches 27 the impact has almost disappeared. In an interesting study of Korean War orphan adoptions:

And yet, the finding of the study by Bruce Sacerdote was that the kids raised by the very poorest families grew up to have the same income as the kids raised by the very richest families. It’s striking that it’s the kind of thing that you would think of as being more about upbringing broadly defined than a lot of other traits. So it could be that it’s actual upbringing where your parents instill the value of a dollar and hard work in you. Or it could be something more like nepotism where because you get raised by the right kind of parents you get good connections, they actually make a phone call for you. And yet, actually the very best studies of the nature and nurture of income find that parents do have a moderate effect on your early income when you’re in your twenties, but basically zero for the rest of your life

So the advice is:

  • Chill out
  • Love your kids
  • Don’t worry




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