Bryan Caplan  

Live Chat Highlight: A 4-Minute Reply to Will

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Here's my favorite part from today's WSJ Live Chat:
Allison Lichter: 

On the Ideas Market blog, Will Wilkinson argues that your argument really only applies to a narrow range of people:

  • middle-and-upper class couples who
  • already have at least one child,
  • are on the fence about having another one,
  • have been overestimating the costs of an additional child, and
  • have the right personalities to effectively practice "serenity parenting."
Friday April 15, 2011 1:58 Allison Lichter
Allison Lichter: 
Can you reply to him?
Friday April 15, 2011 1:58 Allison Lichter
Sure. First thing: There are *far* more people who fall in Will's "narrow range" than the audiences Will and I usually write for.
Friday April 15, 2011 1:59 bcaplan
Second: Will's understating the range. Plenty of people who *like* kids still avoid having any because they think the sacrifice is too high.
Friday April 15, 2011 1:59 bcaplan
Third: The "fence" is pretty wide. I'm not showing parents how to save a few minutes a week. I'm showing them how to save hours - and enjoy the rest more.
Friday April 15, 2011 2:00 bcaplan
Fourth: Since the nature-nurture evidence is very poorly publicized, I think almost everyone overestimates the cost.
Friday April 15, 2011 2:01 bcaplan
Last: Serenity Parenting isn't either/or. It appeals to some people more than others, but anyone can move in a serene direction. :-)

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (7 to date)
William Bruntrager writes:

In WW's original post, he asks for evidence that parents really are "overcharging" themselves for children, and refuses to count New York Times trend pieces as evidence. Any response to this?

Popeye writes:

Someone as smart as Bryan surely understands that no one bases their parenting styles on what they read in books, and that the only reason to write a book like Bryan's s to signal intelligence, entertain some people, and make a little coin. Amirite?

Doc Merlin writes:

No you are wrong. Look at the damage that Dr. Spock's book did by convincing people to change their parenting habits, which then caused many more children to die.

Buzzcut writes:

In a highly charged debate like this, when you are questioning folks' life choices, especially when you are challenging WOMENS' life choices, you should probably put a smiley face after every paragraph in your book.


I hope it takes the edge off!

Daniel Klein writes:

Bryan's book and message is of tremendous importance. When it is in paperback I will buy 20 copies as presents to friends.

Daniel Klein writes:

[follow up to my previous comment]

... despite its awful title.

Hyena writes:

I think the obvious issue is that more educated people might actually acquire more false beliefs about parenting. People who don't know about Baby's First SAT Study Guide also don't worry about it.

In general, the more something is a false cultural expectation, the less beneficial education is because you learn how to better conform to it. The people with the most false beliefs about parenting may well be the people with the fewest false beliefs about everything else.

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