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Parentonomics: An Economist Dad Looks at Parenting Hardcover – January 30, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (January 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262012782
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262012782
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,386,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A delightful read that shows how being a parent changed one economist, and how being an economist provided insight on being a parent. Now if only I could get my two-year-old to eat her peas." Susan Athey, Harvard University, winner of 2007 John Bates Clark Medal



"Dr. Spock meets Freakonomics. Parenting will never be the same. Forget about inflation and unemployment. Here Gans uses economics and game theory to tackle really important topics, such as toilet training and fussy eaters. Parentonomics lays bare what most sleep-deprived parents only dream about. Gans may not help you become a better parent, but he will help you to stay one step ahead of your kids." Barry Nalebuff , Milton Steinbach Professor at Yale School of Management, coauthor of Co-Opetition

About the Author

Joshua Gans is the father of three and Chair of Management at the Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne. He is the author of several economics textbooks and the 2007 recipient of Australia's Young Economist award.

More About the Author

Joshua Gans is a Professor of Strategic Management and holder of the Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto (with a cross appointment in the Department of Economics). Prior to 2011, he was the foundation Professor of Management (Information Economics) at the Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne and prior to that he was at the School of Economics, University of New South Wales. In 2011, Joshua was a visiting researcher at Microsoft Research (New England). Joshua holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University and an honors degree in economics from the University of Queensland. In 2012, Joshua was appointed as a Research Associate of the NBER in the Productivity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program.

At Rotman, he teaches MBA and Commerce students Network and Digital Market Strategy. He has also co-authored (with Stephen King and Robin Stonecash) the Australasian edition of Greg Mankiw's Principles of Economics (published by Cengage), Core Economics for Managers (Cengage), Finishing the Job (MUP) and Parentonomics (New South/MIT Press).

While Joshua's research interests are varied he has developed specialities in the nature of technological competition and innovation, economic growth, publishing economics, industrial organisation and regulatory economics. This has culminated in publications in the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, RAND Journal of Economics, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Journal of Public Economics, and the Journal of Regulatory Economics. Joshua serves as an associate editor of Management Science and the Journal of Industrial Economics and is on the editorial boards of the BE Journals of Economic Analysis and Policy, Economic Analysis and Policy, Games and the Review of Network Economics. In 2007, Joshua was awarded the Economic Society of Australia's Young Economist Award. In 2008, Joshua was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, Australia. Details of his research activities can be found here.

Customer Reviews

And if you read this book, you'll find that the answer is just as you thought: not very much.
Kevin Nicholls
The book didn't teach much about economics, and the descriptions of parenting will I think seem pretty commonplace to anyone who has kids.
Nim Sudo
I am not saying that this is not possible, but the author completely neglects how the economics works in each case.
CKE

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Matthew T. Weflen VINE VOICE on March 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When a book is titled "Parentonomics: An Economist Dad Looks at Parenting", what should a consumer reasonably expect from a book for their $23 (list price)?

I am not yet a parent, but may be taking that plunge soon. So I was looking for a primer. Not easy answers, but a fresh take on looking at the problems of parenting. I suppose I got this from the book in some respects, but I was still left wanting.

My main beef is that when the author uses an economic term, such as game theory, option value, or the like, I expected a bit more in the way of a definition of the term and an explanation of how it works, so that I could compare it to the specific parenting anecdote in the way that Gans (presumably) does himself. Instead, he rushes past the "learning" moment for the reader and gets back to whatever story of poopy diapers or sharing toys he had started. This may make for an amusing and quick read, but after I had finished the book (in about 4 hours - it is not the densest 200 pages you'll come across) I had felt like I had not really learned anything. I had enjoyed my time with Gans and his kids, and I may have seen some evidence of his differing take on parenting, but I was not made to understand the mechanics of that different view in any meaningful way.

In the end, this book reads either like a blog (I gather this was the genesis of much of the material) or like a sort of less-funny Dave Barry column (a comparison that Gans invites in the text). Do I like blogs? Sure, if they're well written. Do I like Dave Barry? Certainly. But were these the things that I wanted from a book called "Parentonomics?" Not really.

In the end, this book is not worth its list price in my opinion.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Reid VINE VOICE on March 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I love to read books that present subjects with which I'm familiar (i.e. parenting) from perspectives with which I'm not (i.e. economics, aside from Macroeconomics 101). Because of that, I was eagerly looking forward to receiving and reading this book. I found the experience overall satisfactory, but the insights were not quite as striking or universal as I would have liked. The book, I think would be much better served by fewer professional reviewers implying it's some kind of parenting manual. It's not. Gans himself does not pretend it is. It isn't an economist's take on parenting as much as it is an economist's take on his own parenting, with a few generally applicable ideas.

Take it as memoir rather than a manual, and it's a fun read. Gans has an easy, conversational tone that works well with his topic. You get a sense of him and his family as people--particularly his children, whom he presents insightfully. The book is often amusing, occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, once in a while slightly preachy...for the most part, it was a pleasure, but of a modest sort. It's not a bad way to pass a few hours, but it's not a particularly compelling one (to my own experience), either.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Peter H. Huang on February 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I started this book as bedtime reading Friday night & finished it Saturday afternoon. I'm not a parent, but an uncle who learned much from it & was LOL at numerous times. His Child #1 is very much like my niece. I'm a law professor who has a background in economics also. I'll require this book in Business Basics for Lawyers next academic year because of it's being a great, fun introduction to incentives, strategic thinking, externalities, agency problems, public goods, optimal punishment, real option value, property rights, reputation, & credible threats among other fundamental notions in microeconomics. There's even some macroeconomics in a discussion of structural versus frictional messes. Any aunt, parent, or uncle will find much insight & humor in this book's vignettes. Anyone that has taken economics will also find many familiar ideas & concepts. But what is best about Parentonomics are the universal stories that every human being can relate to, having been a former child.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bradley Olin VINE VOICE on March 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you're looking for a book on how to budget for parenting, you can skip right over this one. The same applies for real parenting advice. This book is really all about anecdotes and funny lightheartedness as the author explores the many unexpected pitfalls in which parents often find themselves.

Despite my disclaimer, there are some pretty clever ideas in here, and the book is certainly good entertainment value if nothing else. This book is a great metaphorical grain of salt, best when sprinkled on the laps of proud new parents at a baby shower!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By poltroon on July 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Parentonomics, an attempt to view parenting through the discipline of economics, with incentives, has some terrific moments. His discussion of how incentives affect birthdays, of how babies in the US are especially likely to be born the last week of December due to health care deductibles and the dependent tax deduction, while in other countries births tend to be pushed away from that week, is intriguing. His account of child payments in Australia, where there was a huge spike in births on July 1, 2004, the day the payment increased, is amazing and a bit terrifying. This is where Gans is at his best.

His attempts to use examples from parenting to explain economics are somewhat more successful than when he turns it the other way, trying to explain or understand child behavior in terms of economics. He talks about "negotiating" with a baby ... and while this can be useful to a point, sometimes I felt he missed that babies and young children are not rational actors, with neurology quite a bit different from adults. Or maybe he didn't miss it, but chooses to downplay that for the purpose of the essay. It's meant to be all in good fun for the discussion, but I have personally seen many adults (including me) fail to appreciate that there are real physical reasons why a child will not respond to incentives in the way an adult thinks of them, and get frustrated. A frustrated parent is an unhappy parent.

Gans' writing is amusing, and he is at his most interesting when he's talking about game theory and economics and about more general issues than when he's generalizing out from his own kids. It took me a while to finish the book, but on the whole it was enjoyable, and there are some passages that I expect to refer back to frequently.
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