Episode #102

An Economist’s Guide to Parenting

Airs Friday, June 10 and Tuesday, June 28 at 3PM on 93.9 FM and 8PM on AM 820

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Becoming a parent means entering one of the largest seas of advice known to man.  Much of it is written by amateurs.  Little of it has any connection to the tools that social scientists have forged to analyze human behavior.  In this hour of Freakonomics Radio, we turn back this rollicking tide of misunderstanding with the hyper-rational, un-emotional techniques of economists.  Can Steven Levitt incentivize his young daughter to use the toilet? Does watching TV on the sofa have the same effect on kids as going to music class?  What happens when children are randomly assigned to families? We hear from a roundtable of entertaining and smart economists about what really matters as a parent and what doesn’t.

Comments [13]

This program is just a little too "Jad Abumrad-Radiolab-y".

Jun. 29 2011 03:37 PM

Great show. Cut the sound effects.

Jun. 28 2011 04:57 PM

Since "family" is increasingly irrelevant, and children are NOT going to "take care of you" in your old age, the whole point of marriage, particularly for men, no longer makes any sense whatsoever. Marriage is in its death throes as the POINT of marriage, from the male POV, is pointless! It makes more economic sense for a man to occasionally use prostitutes for sexual outlet, and forgo having children altogether. It will be far more economical overall just to forget about marriage and "family," both of which are increasingly irrelevant as we revert back the bonobo stage of primal development.

I totally miss the whole point of marriage and family. Born alone/die alone. That's the hard reality of life and death.

Jun. 28 2011 03:30 PM
sean from bk

this is just speculation, right?! so why is it presented as science?!!

Jun. 28 2011 03:28 PM

will this be podasted?

Jun. 16 2011 12:26 PM
Laura from Brooklyn, NY

Why can't I listen to this program online?
I missed it during the original air date and would like to hear it. Do you not archive show audio?
Thank you.

Jun. 15 2011 07:37 PM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie NY

Why economists? They have been wrong on so many topics, why would I trust what these economist parents have to say? This segment felt very whiny and indulgent.

I guess I was not the target audience.

Jun. 13 2011 02:34 PM

Enjoyed the show, but the non-stop background sound effects were very annoying and made the show seem geared toward a 10 year old.

Jun. 11 2011 07:40 AM
Priscilla Rope from Washington, DC

As the mom of your parenting presentation, Kate Rope, I know it was beautifully put together and allowed one and all to learn new and different facts/theories about an essential topic...a new and intreguing slant on an age-old topic.

Jun. 10 2011 04:11 PM
Jeanette from Middlesex, NJ

Loved this show! I suspected this all along. No matter what kind of kiddie disaster we endure during the day, I make sure we end it with lots of love and snuggling. That seems to be doing the trick. I'm tired of fretting over every freakin' Happy Meal or worrying that I'm not reading enough with my daughter. I'm giving up and having a glass of wine! They'll be fine.

Jun. 10 2011 04:01 PM

So much of this episode (supposedly data drive) was what economists "felt" about their kids. Levitt stating my kids don't "like" this, the woman saying she was unhappy taking her daughter to the stables. Not very much hard data cited. Why not?

Pretty sure there are studies on correlation between parental involvement and school success, parental influence on the likelihood that a child from a violent home will be more likely to resort to violence.

And what about those Korean adoptees, any data on what their backgrounds were, and controlling for their trauma, age of adoption, etc.

Freakonomics often feels like opinion somewhat disguised as economics by throwing the phrase "opportunity cost" every once in a while.

Why why why????

Jun. 10 2011 03:36 PM
Ana from NJ

I am listening now and I am puzzled because I don't drink and don't smoke and have kept my daughter away from that environment, and yet, she has for the past year, starting last summer before freshman year, been going out with a group of friends that drinks too much, and she has been drinking too much herself.

Jun. 10 2011 03:34 PM
Ramaswamy from Closter, NJ

One of your guests said that fraternal twins share half their genes. That is not true. Fraternal twins are just like ordinary siblings and share one fourth of their genes.

Jun. 10 2011 03:24 PM

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