Nature vs. Nurture

Nice article by Bryan Caplan at the econlib. It presents a rather compelling case that nature trumps nurture when it comes to education of children. There is barely any effect of parenting (income, number of siblings, education level of parent) in the education of the child or the future income of the child. The only long term impact seems to be the impact parenting has on affection. Lesson: stop pressuring your child and spend quality play time with him or her. The long term pay-off is much better.

This is a must read in today’s competitive parenting world. Why do parents place so much pressure on children. Making them study, sending them to after (or before) school classes, extra curricular activities and so on? Is there some other aspect of this we don’t understand? Isn’t it reasonable to expect that if there is so little impact of nurture on the child’s future, parents would change their behaviour? How many adults today would wish that their parents had forced them to study more or harder? I bet most would wish that they would rather have been left alone as a child.

All work and no play etc.

One thought on “Nature vs. Nurture

  • November 19, 2010 at 5:23 pm
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    Dont remember if this is the same study, but had read about a study that had similar findings regarding the much larger impact of nature than nurture. Two points here:
    a) It significant that this possibly implies that genetic evolution far outweighs anything else – upbringing, opportunity, subsidy etc – in creating capability
    b) Impact of this, if any, on adoption

    Also am not entirely sure about the conclusions you’re drawing. It may be that the study emphsizes that intelligence can be better created with nature than nurture. However it does not say that intelligence cannot be destroyed. So it could also be even with good nature input, without stimuli/ support, that intelligence could be lost. So hold onto spoiling your child just yet!

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