Economist to Parents: Raising Kids Shouldn't Cost That Much

Remember our post from way back when about the cost of raising a child totaling about $250K? Well, economist Bryan Caplan decided to take a closer look as to exactly why (and how we can lower that cost). The Week summarizes:

So... we're spending too much on kids?
"In a nutshell," says Sierra Black at Strollerderby, "Caplan believes that parents are 'overcharging' themselves for their children." By committing to intense tactics like attachment parenting, which requires moms to carry newborns non-stop and respond to their every desire, they're unnecessarily robbing themselves of time. Parents also feel obligated to spend a fortune on lessons of every kind, and an endless stream of educational videos and toys.

And all that expensive attention is really unnecessary?
Yes. Caplan says the bottom line is that nature — the kids' genes — mostly determines who they'll be; the power of nurture, he says, is minimal. Research on twins and adopted children shows that kids raised by highly educated parents with big vocabularies, for example, tend to know more words when they're tiny. But by the time they reach age 12, "the effect of enriched upbringing on vocabulary was barely visible," Caplan says in The New York Times.

Link (Photo: Caitlin Caplan)

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I urge anyone interested in free-thinking, patriotism, progress and inherent value to check into the writings of Thomas Paine. The man was good friends with George Washington before he started to comment on slavery and the oppression of women in American culture. At that point he became a target for ridicule and Washington ex-communicated him. Upon his death, only three people attended his funeral, and they were either black, slaves or women. The people whom he saw as oppressed in early American culture. The very people he sacrificed his reputaton to support. Sure, Thomas Paine is a hero by today's standards, but I assure you, today's heroes are dying much the same way Thomas Paine did, alone.

In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, feared, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot. - Mark Twain
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Please allow some room for error as I'm not a practicing developmentalist. I am familiar with most of the major works including Jean Piaget. I guess my thoughts were a little archaic, harkening back to Piaget's developmental stages which I knew to be obsolete. To me, it's a bit like referencing the triune brain-model, it's considered obsolete, but it is still extremely useful. I'm of the opinion that there are no "stages" that aren't arbitrary.

With that said, I think my point remains that, as Diana Baumrind might agree, authoritative parenting, that focuses on the child's growth into adult-hood is paramount to any other form of parenting that is geared toward pleasing the child or controlling the child.

Thanks for the update, I'm going to look into the experiment you mentioned ASAP.
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Since when is a person's life measured by how many millions they rake in? Oh I know, since the industrial revolution, Sigmund Freud, Edward Bernays and the individualist-consumer-driven marketting mess we now live in. I think it used to be, your value was an inherent part of being human, and progress meant overcoming yourself for the collective welfare. What made men like Thomas Paine, George Washington and John Adams particularly respectable, influential and note-worthy was the major sacrifices to their own persons carried out for the sake of humanity. Anyone can do anything for themselves given the opportunity and resources. To do things for others completely alien to yourself, that is the real measure of strength.
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I was commenting on her intelligence and responsibility. That was the point.

As far as "turning her upbringing into a multi-million dollar yadda-yadda-yadda", that's pretty easy to do when you have multi-millions of dollars to start with, plus advisors and employees doing most of the work for you.
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ted, say what you want about her morals or relative responsibility, but Paris Hilton turned her well-to-do upbringing into a multi-million entertainment entrepreneurial venture in its own right. Clothes, perfume, music, acting ... she's raking it in. Of course the true test is whether or not any of that will be left in 20 years, but Paris Hilton isn't stupid. She knows full well what will sell and panders to her target demographic.
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