Saturday, October 21, 2006

Random Thoughts while Walking the Dog

FOr some reason (I honestly have no idea why) the following question came to my mind while walking the dog this afternoon:

How much do economics determine what is considered best for our children?

THere are 2 aspects that I mulled to this question.
1. Immunizations. Now don't get me wrong, I am an advocate of immunizing children. Who wants to see mumps and measles and polio make a return? BUt as more and more vaccines get brought to market and pushed to be made part of the "standard package" I wonder. Chicken pox and flu in particular. Yes I know that severe complications are possible for these bugs. BUt is part of the urgency to have these fairly standard illnesses stpped a joint economic push to both sell the drug (on the pharmeceutical company's behalf) and to limit time off work by the parents? AFter all lost time due to illness is lost productivity--and that costs.
2. Schooling. More precisely, the age at which school starts. Here we have the opportunity to have kids start school half-time in the year they turn 4 (they can actually start at 3 as long as their birthday is before December 31). And in this town senior kindergarten in full-time from October onward. Why the push to get kids into school? Is it because they need to learn so much faster or is it because (as has been expressed by some people I have heard) school is cheaper than daycare. For what it is worth, I think 4 is too young for school, I think 5 is too soon for full-time, and I think that the school system in general is pushing kids to do too much (both in school and as homework) at too young an age.

Taking it as a given that economics shapes "best practices" in all aspects of life, including child-care, I wonder how often we stop to ask what makes something the best way to go.


  1. Here in Maine, there is a move by the state encouraging public preschool, primarily to give kids who won't get any preschool education a chance to start equally with kids who do. But of course there's no money or space for it!

  2. That is how it starts. But of course the parents who really want their kids to go are often the ones who provide that level of stimulation at home.

    WE don't have to have teachers to teach the alphabet or basic counting. THe one argument that works is the idea of socializing kids, espceially only children who spend little time with other childrent heir own age.