39. Love, Money, and Parenting | Matthias Doepke, Fabrizio Zilibotti



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Recently, a friend recommended a book he is reading, Love, Money, and Parenting. It is different from other parenting books on the market. This is not a masterpiece by an educator, psychologist or Tiger Moms and Helicopter Parents. It is the result of two economics professors exploring parenting styles through data analysis and individual examples. This book is accompanied by a large amount of data and academic reports from various countries, has been supported by The Economist magazine, and has also attracted attention in the economics community.


Although titled Love, Money, and Parenting, the author primarily deals with how parents always try their best to prepare their children with a foothold in society, so there is not much on "Love." In fact, the book mainly discusses the relationship between money and parenting.


The author makes a straightforward point at the beginning of the book:


“Our thesis is that economic conditions, and the way they change over time, have an important effect on parenting practices and on what people regard as good parenting.”

“Actually, when it comes to parenting styles, we find that income inequality is more important than the overall level of economic development. More precisely, the crucial factors are, on the one hand, the extent to which a child’s future economic prosperity hinges on success in education, and, on the other hand, inequality in educational opportunity. In societies where income inequality is high but entirely determined by birth status, it would be futile for parents to push their children to stand out as exceptional students.”


“Throughout our research, we discovered that in countries with low inequality and low returns to education, parents tend to be more permissive, while in countries with high inequality and a high return to education, parents are both more authoritarian and more prone to instill in their children a drive to achieve ambitious goals.”


Why do so many people now pay so much attention to their children's education and spend an increasingly large portion of their household’s disposable income on it? This book tells us why this is a rational choice for parents, to give their children the most advantages at the starting line, and how this has become our modern parenting environment...


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