Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Next Generation of Conservatives?

My six year old son is a big fan of Senator Obama and does not particularly like Senator Clinton. These impressions were based on seeing both of them on TV. He also once had a snack at the UC GSB with Austan Goolsbee and he thinks that Austan would be a fine CEA Chair. He is confused about who Senator Clinton would choose to run the CEA. Somehow I doubt that it would be Robert Barro.

My son has evinced some Barro-esque world views. His progressive school (UCLA's UES) is encouraging the kids to bring in 100 pennies both to count coins and then the school will collect the money to give to less fortunate children. My son is angry about this second part. He has argued that we are renters who need money to buy a home and why do we have to give it away? While this selfish logic makes me a pinch uncomfortable, his following statement made me quite happy.

He argued that if every other kid in the class donates the money to give to the poor then it's no big deal if we contribute nothing. The child of two economists has figured out free riding with no explicit coaching from his Chicago Trained parents. I like his Nash equilibrium logic. While he says he wants to be an astronomer, I believe that his life course is now set. This 6 year old kid will soon make Robert Barro look like Robert Reich. We are hoping that "progress not regress" will not be his mantra.

There has been a huge rise in the number of children of economists becoming PHD economists. UCLA has Christian Hellwig but he represents just the tip of the iceberg. How do you explain this trend? Harvard's PHD program is filled with these "legacies".