Unlike what one might expect from the title, parentonomics is not Jo Frost disguised as an economist, nor an economist playing Jo Frost. Joshua Gans is a father of three, applying his scientific discipline into parenting and documenting the results. And he does so in an instructive and humorous way. I wish I could write my experiences with my three children in a similar way. Maybe someone else can document parenting while viewing it though an algorithmic or engineering prism.
In my opinion this is a book for fathers. Other books on parenting that I have checked have a more motherly approach, so this is a refreshing change. Because unlike the “no two kids are the same” principle, significant others’ reactions seem to follow a pattern* regardless of the number of children. Soon to become fathers prepare yourselves.
I really liked the fact that this book discusses parenting of three. Most of the literature that I have browsed seems to address the issue of the first (or single) child in the family. One would expect that after the first child one is prepared to deal with the second (and third), but hey you are not: Family management complicates exponentially. And in my case (child 0 first+, twins next) it complicates even faster than Gans’.
One interesting observation that occurred to me while reading the book is that all parents seem to be non systematically trained game theorists (game practitioners maybe?). Which is basically the reason why many strategies we employ as parents are flawed or simply not working. All in all this is a good book that has advice to offer and data to back up the opinions it carries. I really enjoyed reading it.
[*] – Either there is a pattern, or our wives would definitely be friends (or both).
[+] – Gans enumerates his children as Child 1, 2 and 3. I prefer the K&R approach :)