Economics analysis of complex social reality?

Steven D Levitt, Stephen J Dubner

book, Ny Times blog


A chapter in the book identifies what his analysis says is related to kids' success in school (Educating Kids, though it's worth noting that success in school might be a misleading target if schools are aimed in the wrong direction):

  • positively correlated: parents are well educated; parents are in high socioeconomic position; mother didn't have first child until 30+; parents speak english; parent(s) on PTA; house has many books in it

  • negatively correlated: low birthweight; adopted

  • un-correlated: family is intact (Nuclear Family); family recently moved to new/better home; mother didn't work (until child in 1st grade) (Two Income Family); attended HeadStart; frequently taken to museums; spanked regularly; watching lots of TV; parents read to child daily!

Also notes use of Statistics to catch schools/teachers cheating on Standardized Test-s.

The blog and the follow-up book have gotten increasing criticism

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