Sunday, August 17, 2008

Parenting Advice from Economists

Winning is Everything

Winning isn't Everything;
Joshua Gans is 'over the moon' because his daughter won a sports event. With some qualifications he asserts winning is everything. Its a very American attitude and I don't agree at all particularly in relation to kids sport where I think the key objective for the vast majority of kids is to participate - to enjoy participating in a healthy activity. Assuming Joshua's type of elation feeds back into the incentives influencing participation decisions by youth it seems to me unhealthy for those who don't really need to win and don't in fact win. The key reward from sport is to the individual in terms of enhanced individual physical potentiality not their ability to rank themselves ahead of other competitors.

Nor, for that matter, am I overly concerned with the signalling function of education - the important issue is to add value not to order students 1,2,...N. Again the ordering is irrelevant because it does not map into something that reflects significant value in any field of life. From an individualistic perspective the point is to realise individual potential not to be able to rank yourself ahead of the other guy.

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