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Parentonomics: An Economist Dad Looks at Parenting (MIT Press) Hardcover – January 30, 2009

3.3 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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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)

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

Mahmood Karimi-Hakak, Artistic Director of Mahak International Artists, Inc.,has written, produced, directed, designed, and/or acted in over 40 stage and screen productionsin the U.S., Europe, and his native Iran. His literary credits include fiveplays, two books of poetry, several translations from and into Persian, and numerousarticles and interviews both in English and Persian. Dr. Hakak has taught at such universitiesas Towson, CUNY, SMU here in the U.S., as well as universities in Belgiumand Iran. At present he serves as Associate Professor and Producer of the Theatre Seriesat Siena College, New York.

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Product Details

  • Series: MIT Press
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (January 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262012782
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262012782
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,101,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 very interesting and easy for a new parent to ready just what they had time to read (since we all know how busy first time parents can be).

The only chapter that I thought needed more 'meat' was the travel chapter. Having raised two children overseas and making long distance trips from places like Perth, Australia to Middle America, I realized that I might have more experience on this chapter so it seemed to not offer much value. But the other chapters did offer things to think about and interesting ways to look at typical parenting money issues.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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, however that was not it at all. Instead, this is a delightful series of personal observations by an economist on parenting. I'm an expecting father and more of an economist groupie than a scholar so I followed enough to find some of the dry Econ humor funny. Even if you're not really into economics, Gans' personal accounts of life as a parent make it a worthwhile read. Out of all the parenting books I've read, this is by far and away my favorite and I highly recommend it.
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