Late night thoughts on the economics of parenting

My 1.5yr old son is very cute with his dancing, spinning around, singing, laughing, clapping, and high-fiving. Good thing too, since he's been doing it until 11:30PM most nights this summer.

I expected my kid would be short, smart, and hyperactive. Somehow I didn't realize he'd be a flirtatious, fun-loving night owl too. Ah well, I can attest to it being a fun package (for oneself, one's peers, and hopefully one's parents). But it's a bit tough on us. I feel guilty saying that, given how much childcare we have, but it is striking how much mellower and easy to entertain a lot of other people's kids are.

In some wacky theoretical sense, I used to believe that educated people have an erroneous instinct for quality over quantity in child production/rearing (ObKnockedUpQuote "Watch you, he wants to rear your child!"). That is, many people obsess about pouring resources into their kids, when they'd be happier (and the world richer) if they had more kids instead. But now that I'm going through the brutality of parenting, and psyching myself up to be happy with quality because I don't think I am up for much quantity, I'm not sure I buy that.

Maybe it's a question of utility curves: putting a little extra effort into existing kids doesn't hurt your quality of life much, even if it's over many years, whereas having new ones makes life really suck for awhile. Or discount rates: the cost of putting extra effort into parenting over 18 years is mostly in the misty future, while the cost of pregnancy and caring for a newborn loom large in the next couple years. (This is subtly different from Bryan Caplan's argument, which focuses on people over-discounting the benefits, rather than the costs).

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Division of work

Wealthy people used to hire nannies. As long as you are qualified to do better things than getting up in the night, why not pay someone to do it? I don't have any children and I am largely ignorant of what it requires, but I feel I'd rather work much harder during the day and sleep full nights. Of course if you have many children in a row you have huge economy of scales (one nanny, clothes, toys etc).

1.5 year... just because I am mean, here's a glimpse of the future from the Diamond Age

Most of their
children had reached the age when they were no longer naturally
endearing to anyone save their own parents; the size when their energy
was more a menace than a wonder; and the level of intelligence when
what would have been called innocence in a small child was infuriating
rudeness. A honeybee cruising for nectar is pretty despite its implicit
threat, but the same behaviour in a hornet three times larger makes one
glance about for some handy swatting material.

We have ~50 hours/week of

We have ~50 hours/week of childcare. But a) our nannies like to go to bed before midnight (one of them has school in the morning), b) our nannies like consistent schedules, and the late nights happen inconsistently.

Also, while how much sleep i get affects my happiness, it doesn't have that much affect on how much I earn. Unfortunately, effort and income are not that closely related when you work for a big company.

What you need is a web

What you need is a web developer / nanny.

a) He won't mind working at night
b) The additional work required is minimal and he can keep a consistent schedule so it won't be expensive
c) He can speak in html to the baby

Renowned Expert Tells you how to Raise Kids.

One and one half years old, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Have another couple of kids; they will all be entirely different. They are enriches of life, so screw money and sleep, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put the little devil to bed if you so desire. You may need ear plugs to tough it out as he battles you relentlessly for control. If he wins you will pay endlessly for your weakness.
You need to establish some sort of authority status. Kids expect guidance. You will think you are failing you will have an impact, which you will see when he is a teenager.
As they get older you should loosen up some as they will outsmart you anyway.
Don’t expect to be the perfect parent. Don’t micromanage. Don’t expect your children to be perfect. They will eventually figure things even if it is after they grow up. Don’t adopt any child raising fads. If you establish a firm/loving milieu, the child will practically raise him/herself.
You will not be able to do anything I just suggested. Primal parenting forces will control you instead. These have always worked in the past.


I think having your child outsmarting you is a wonderful experience, however the smarter you are, the less likely your kid will outsmart you. One way out of this is to have many kids.

If people strived to have at least one smarter child, evolution would get a boost since smart people would need to produce more children than unsmart people. It's funny because it would make an easy evolutive rule to could have itself evovled in nature... produce an offspring, if at a certain age you can defeat him in a given challenge, produce another one and repeat, otherwise stop. I wonder if any species actually does this.