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Allowance, Taxes And Potty Training

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Allowance, Taxes And Potty Training

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Allowance, Taxes And Potty Training

Joshua Gans and his three children. courtesty Joshua Gans hide caption

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Allowance, Taxes And Potty Training

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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 Joshua Gans, an economist at the University of Melbourne — 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.

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Also on the podcast: The trouble with allowance, and the candy tax.

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