Timmy Elsewhere

At the ASI.

Assortative mating and rising inequality.

5 thoughts on “Timmy Elsewhere”

  1. I know you’re speculating, but some evidence of cause would be good.

    I’d be very interested in studies showing how the better off ensure their their kids will be better off – Likely enough acombination of factors – nepotism, education along with that network, peer group barriers, plain old favoritism…

  2. Doug, there isn’t a hell of a lot of nepotism going on in the first five years of life, when children are learning the most crucial lessons from their parents and grandparents, and surrounded by people who spend time on them, help them to master speech, reading, drawing, humour, painting, being clean, getting dressed, tying their shoelaces, and occasionally getting smacked on the bottom.

    The children of well educated couples are undoubtedly in an advantageous position. But you have to think clearly about how this happy situation came about:

    1. Both of those parents must have had enough intelligence to get qualifications, so baby has good genes.
    2. Both of those parents had the perseverance and work-ethic to complete, and then apply, their years of education. They have a track record of responsibility, patience, and staying power.
    3. There are two of them. Together. They have enough commitment to eachother and the baby to make their relationship work. At least one of them had to sacrifice a certain amount of career advancement, so they could have the family they wanted.
    4. By example, they are teaching all of those values to their baby.
    Children like that tend to start school fairly well socialised, with some ability to read, count, and play. Good start.

    Compare that to the other end of the spectrum, a child of a welfare queen who only really wanted a baby to use as a meal ticket, who never reads at all, let alone to the bairn. Who leaves him in a playpen so she doesn’t have to spend time keeping him out of mischief. The child sees a succession of blokes moving in, getting stoned, thumping his mother, and then getting chucked out. And if he survives, he grows up thinking that’s normal.
    Children like that tend to start school with little or no speech skills. At worst they point at things and grunt. They are lacking in cognitive development, and hand-eye coordination, and occasionally aggressive.

    It isn’t nepotism, or favouritism, that keeps those youngsters down. It’s the poxy parenting that stunted their development.

  3. Further to Monty’s comment, I read somewhere (The Economist I think) that the current thinking is that if the parenting isn’t done properly in the first 2 years then the child will never catch up.

  4. Could well be Monty – but assertions don’t make facts.

    Inheritability of intelligence? Definition of intelligence? Any real difference in parenting styles across the spectrum, not taking the extreme (and much mythologized) ‘welfare Queen’ as the average?

    On the other hand I do like Tim’s analysis of true level of inequality when NHS and other services are taken into account.
    Economics rules more than assertions, maybe?

  5. Time, and personal interaction, are far more significant than money and material benefits. You can play “gladiators” with a colander on your head, brandishing a wooden spoon.
    Raising a pre-schooler is exhausting, simply because it demands all of your attention, all the time. But it’s all very important.

    Most of the significant accomplishments are things we take for granted. For example, when you go into a room where the grownups are talking to eachother, and the toddler is playing with his toys. Then someone says his name, and he responds, looks around, starts paying attention. He knows that now, someone is speaking to him. Listening, now matters.
    Without that learned response, a child is at an awful disadvantage upon starting school.

    There are countless examples like that. And money isn’t even significant as a resource. The job needs people, their time, effort, patience, and attention. Ideally, two parents, two grandparents, and any aunties and uncles who are keen to join in on a daily basis. Variety is the spice of life. Besides, you are going to be utterly frazzled and useless if you don’t have a workforce.

    I’m convinced that a family who are all thick as two short planks, can raise a child who ultimately can become a schoolteacher, or an accountant, and never know how they did it.

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