Thursday, September 16, 2010

Takeaways from Freakonomics, Part II

I finally got around to finishing the popular economics book Freakonomics, where "a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything". You can read their current writing at the Freakonomics blog. You can find Part  I here. Here the last and second part of my takeaways, mostly about parenting and it's outcome:

The first couple of pages of the book make the now popular but still uncomfortable claim that the rise in abortions after Roe v. Wade in the 1970's led to a decrease in crime in the 1990's. Essentially, the unwanted babies were more likely to become criminals.

The American abortion statistics are shocking. In the first year after Roe v. Wade 750,000 women had abortions (1 for every 4 births). By 1980 the number was 1.6 million (1 for every 2.25 births). As of 2004, there have been 37 million abortions since Roe v. Wade.

The American story of abortion and crime is supported by a similar change in Romania.

Jane Roe (real name Norma McCorvey), from Roe v. Wade, converted to Christianity later in life and is now a adamant pro-life supporter.

More police and harsh punishment for laws is the best and easiest way to reduce crime.

The Broken windows theory of policing and the benefits of capital punishment are not supported by any data.

There needs to be, though there may not be, a better way for unwanted children to succeed.

Low income names are often normal names with weird spellings. Think Destinee, Bobbie, Tiffanie, etc.

Name popularity often goes from upper class, to middle class, to lower class. It seems a name's popularity is a signal for success, but the signal gets weaker as it becomes more popular. Maybe I should copy what  Mark Zuckerberg calls his kids.

Bad parenting matters more than good.

Race makes no difference in achievement (earlier). It only happens to be correlated with other things that do (parent income/education, mother's age at birth, etc).

Surprisingly, single parenthood does not effect achievement at school. Neither do stay-at-home moms (though both probably has other impacts).

IQ of biological parents matter more than IQ of adoptive parents in early academic performance.

Parents often determine their children's possibility through genetics, but peers do most of the influencing (earlier).

Low achieving adopted children did fare better as adults compared to those who stayed in a low achieving household.

What parents are matters more than what parents do. However, what parents do can eventually effect who parents are.

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