Friday, August 12, 2005

Economics and Parenting Cross Paths

Marginal Revolution has an entry about tantrums. The basic idea is that the tantrum is a status symbol. If you are able to have a tantrum, it means that you are in a higher social status than the rest of us.
CEOs throw more tantrums than mailboys. Similarly movie stars, sports stars, and politicians throw more tantrums than ordinary people in those industries. Also famous for their tantrums: spoiled young wives, bigshot patriarchs, elite travelers, and toddlers.
The last entrant may seem surprising, but...
Parents mostly serve toddlers, not the other way around.
What does this mean? It means that Foster Cline and Jim Fay are right. But it also means that they're more than just astute parents; they're astute economists. If you want to change the behavior of the toddlers, change the incentive structure.

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