courtesty Joshua Gans
Joshua Gans and his three children.
It's really, really hard to create the right kind of economic incentives — even if you're a professional economist, and all you're trying to do is teach your kids to use the toilet.
On today's Planet Money, we talk to economist Joshua Gans and his 11-year-old daughter.
Gans, who wrote a book called Parentonomics, tried to create a toilet-training economy for his young children. He rewarded them with candy for sitting on the toilet — and the older ones got candy if they helped the younger ones.
But, like tiny Wall-Street bankers, the kids figured out how to work the system for maximum advantage.
His daughter managed to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes, all day long. For a while, she got a treat every time.
She also wrung everything she could out of her brother:
I realized that if I helped my brother go to the toilet, I would get rewarded, too. And I realized that the more that goes in, the more comes out. So I was just feeding my brother buckets and buckets of water.
Also on the podcast: We discuss the jobs numbers that the government reported today. And we talked about this graph, the most vivid illustration you'll see of how slow this recovery is.
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Note: Part of today's podcast is a rerun. It first ran in August, 2010.