According to a study by a team of scholars led by the Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, mothers enjoy child care just a little more than housework, and a lot less than watching television. As an economist, I have to suspect that a major reason for parents' lack of enthusiasm for their role is simply diminishing marginal utility: Average enjoyment of parenting is low because parents are overdoing it.
You might respond, "Yes, but at least parental attention makes the children happier." It's striking, then, that even kids don't seem to want all this parental attention. One notable study by Ellen Galinsky of the Families and Work Institute found that while most parents believe their children want more face time, only a tiny minority of children actually do. In contrast, about a third of children wish their parents were less stressed and tired. What kids seem to want from their parents isn't more time; it's a better attitude.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Caplan talks about parenting in this article in the Chronicle (HT Carden). One of his conclusions, although somewhat evident to me, tends to go against public discourse on the subject: