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Parentonomics: An Economist Dad Looks at Parenting Hardcover – January 30, 2009
"1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12"
Parenting tools to use in virtually every situation, from internationally renowned clinical psychologist Thomas Phelan. Learn more.
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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)
I'm sure parents will recognize many of the parenting dilemmas Joshua Gans has come across. Each of these vignettes is amusing, often touching, and always told in a very tender way. Yet the economist in Joshua can re-frame these stories to find the underlying economics, and perhaps some useful parenting insights as well.(Justin Wolfers, Freaknomics Blog The New York Times)
Parentonomics brings a thought-provoking and sometimes laugh-out-loud perspective to the challenges faced by every mother and father.(Sherrill Nixon Sydney Morning Herald)
Parentonomics challenges conventional parenting by applying economic theories to the messy reality of raising kids.(Susie O'Brien Victoria Herald Sun)
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
More About the Author
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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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!
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was too bored to finish the book. I think you really need to have kids of your own in order to appreciate this book. The author uses a lot of anecdotes from his personal life. Read morePublished 19 months ago by SurferDave
I just finished this book and have to say it was really entertaining. I was expecting some kind of statistics driven guide to determining what to and not to do as a parent,... Read morePublished on October 27, 2013 by T. Glazier
I have a B.A. in Economics and I am a parent of two, so I had high expectations for this book. It was OK and had some funny moments, but it fell flat of what I had expected it to... Read morePublished on April 5, 2013 by Gadget Girl
it's a great read for any parent into economics and who is interested in a few tales about childrens' motivations. Read morePublished on January 28, 2013 by Clinton Fore
It is a book for the general reader on parenting. It is more or less a book about the author's family, with some economic theory in between the stories. Read morePublished on November 1, 2012 by Constantine
Parentonomics gives you a very round view of things to consider with children. Breaking parenting down into small chunks like, planning, delivering, sleeping, eating and so on was... Read morePublished on June 28, 2011 by JSimens
I doubt any economist by training would consider this the defining treatise on parental microeconomics. Read morePublished on July 9, 2010 by Al
First off, in the interest of full disclosure, I did not finish this book. That says a lot right there - I usually will slog through a book whether or not I don't like it. Read morePublished on August 20, 2009 by Befragt
My wife and I are both Financial Analysts, with one of us an Accounting and the other an Economist. I bought the Kindle version and read it every chance I had - I don't think any... Read morePublished on August 14, 2009 by M. Vanderbilt