Bryan Caplan  

Me in the Chronicle of Higher Education

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My editorial on parenting has finally appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  In it, I summarize some big results from time diary studies (Parental effort has risen sharply in the last few decades) and behavioral genetics (The long-run effect of parenting is greatly exaggerated), then explore their joint meaning.  My conclusion should be familiar to EconLog readers:
Many of us worry that our nation will pay a heavy price in years to come because modern parents are shirking their responsibilities to the next generation. If you combine the results from time diaries and behavioral genetics, however, you get a different picture. It turns out that there is some really good news and some mildly bad news. The really good news is that we can stop worrying about the horrible fate of the next generation. The bad news is that parents today are making large "investments" in their children that are unlikely to pay off.
So why am I spending so many hours reading The Cartoon History of the Universe with my sons?  Because it's fun!


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COMMENTS (3 to date)
manuelg writes:

I will remind myself to teach my daughter the tools to achieve her own goals, per her own morality, any present my morality only through my example.

Steve Roth writes:

"So why am I spending so many hours reading The Cartoon History of the Universe with my sons? Because it's fun!"

Thank you! Those early years with the diapers and all are kind of tough, especially for dads who don't tend to get as much of the cuddly positive feedback. But it's a great investment in future joy.

If that's potentially the biggest payoff--having a joyous, loving family in future years and decades--then investments (personal, emotional, together time) should be targeted to that end. Not to producing some kind of productive economic unit. They'll get by, or they won't, whatever you do. But will you adore each other?

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