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LOVE, MONEY, & PARENTING
Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti
Princeton University Press
February 5, 2019
So I went into this book thinking it was going to be about talking to your kid about finances. Whoooooops! It’s actually about how economics affects and influences parenting choices—which probably sounds a little boring, but I have to say it is FASCINATING!
The authors argue that we’re getting back into a more authoritative style of parenting (right now most American parents exhibit heavy-handed helicopter-type controlling parenting practices, reminiscent of the US in the 1800s or current day Russia and China 😳). While it’s easy to criticize parents, especially when you see things like the recent college admission scandals, in truth, moms and dads are responding to the new economic and social constraints they are facing. One of the biggest constraints families are facing is the rapidly expanding gap between the richest ten percent and the poorest ten percent of Americans. When there is more inequality within a society, there are fewer opportunities for each person to make it on the “one right path” we push for every American kid’s future: college, grad school, and career. And when there are fewer opportunities to be successful, it means there’s a greater chance your kid won’t do well and succeed if they don’t get an A+ on that math test and volunteer at the soup kitchen every Friday.
While most of the book focuses on observing and explaining why things are the way they are—without passing a lot of judgment—I really appreciated the possible solutions the authors present—like focusing on vocational training (to open up more ways for the 60% of people who won’t quality for college to gain financial success) and offering early education for all kids age 0 – 5. (Apparently the first five years of a person’s life are so crucial that it’s nearly impossible to reverse negative effects incurred during that time. That was eye-opening to me…)
Even though the United States is on the path toward concentrating most of the power and wealth in this country into the hands of a few (much like, oh say, North Korea, China, and Russia, eek), I’m comforted by the fact that democracies have the ability to course correct. So long as people get out and vote to make their voices heard—and so long as their votes are counted by a democratically-elected government—we can find ways to redistribute resources, money, and power in this country. Let’s just hope Trump doesn’t turn the United States into a dictatorship during his remaining months (I hope not years…) in office.