Stephen Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics

In a startling interview segment on Market Place on NPR, Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner makes the assertion that parents don’t really matter when it comes to their kids’ success in life.  Surprised?  I was too.  Not a dad myself (unless you count my furry dog and he doesn’t respond to anything that I say), I would like to believe that my actions would have a positive impact on my kids.  It turns out probably just being there and being who I am is likely the best way to have an influence on any future rug rats.  Takes the pressure off to be sure, but goes way in the face of conventional wisdom.  Wish I would have known this as a child.  Would have given me a great bargaining chip to play with my parents when they were giving me a hard time about watching too  much tv.  (Technical Note:  I am putting the radio clip here and hopefully it’ll play seemlessly.  If it doesn’t, check out the link; full article below.)  Enjoy.  -Ed

Freakonomics Podcast on Market Place

How Much Do Parents Really Matter?

Kai Ryssdal and Stephen Dubner are both dads. They both hope to have an impact on the lives of their children.  But these hopes exist in the face of data questioning how much parents really matter. This data comes, in part, from economists, who are asking bold questions like what happens when we randomly assign children to families?  And why are college-educated mothers spending more time away from work, chauffering their kids around?  Today onMarketplace, the answers to these questions and a new approach to parenting, endorsed by Dubner’s co-author  Steve Levitt.  Here’s a hint: you need a comfy couch.