Parent by Number
By Amy Willis
It seems parenting has become an ever-greater challenge in our age of anxiety. We have more information than ever, but this seems to render decision-making harder than ever. In this week’s episode, EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomes back Emily Oster to talk about her new book, Cribsheet. Oster hopes her deep dive into the data about parenting in early years can help parents relax. Does more data make for better parenting? As Russ says, “it’s very hard to be cold and calculating about our children. It’s very hard to be data-driven.” Can you do it?
1- Roberts notes his appreciation of Oster’s consideration of trade-offs in making parenting decisions; he reminds listeners that the first ever EconTalk episode was on parenting, and he recalls this question: Why should you put your kid’s coat on outside rather than inside? Can you think of any similar examples? What does this suggest about the applicability of economics to parenting generally?
2- How do Oster’s views on breastfeeding compare to those of pediatrician Amy Tuteur? Their views on co-sleeping? Have either of these episodes caused you to make any changes in your own parenting (or the way you think about parenting)? Explain.
3- What is the “Bamba effect,” and what has OSter’s research led her to conclude about peanut allergies? To what extent do you find her convincing on this topic?
4- What are the benefits of reading to your child before bed? In relating his own experiences with his children, what does Roberts mean by “an investment book?”
5- Roberts closes the episode with a question we’ll repeat here: What’s the best parenting advice you ever received?