Apparently it’s economist week at Octothorp’s cannonball read.
Emily Oster’s Expecting Better was one of those shibboleths of motherhood that I didn’t even realize existed until I had the octolet, and I fell for it hard. (I felt like I stumbled on a Stonecutters meeting when I was about to give birth. Old friends came out of the woodwork to welcome me to the club, and parents of toddlers were like vampires at the prospect of a) new parent friends and b) someone who was getting even less sleep than they were. I didn’t even realize there was a club until I joined.) It was amazing to have actual data supporting or refuting the variety of old wives’ tales, “common knowledge” and “I’m gonna tell you to do this or avoid that because if something goes wrong I don’t want to get sued” advise for pregnant moms out there. I read it all, relaxed somewhat, and still lived a monastic existence for 40 weeks anyway.
When there was a sequel announced I was counting down the days until it came, and it only disappoints in comparison to its predecessor. Economics is ultimately the study of behavior and the study of money both, and women have been historically neglected by both; it’s refreshing to read a hard data, heavily researched book on a topic specific to women. Expecting Better was huge because it filled a need in part because women-specific issues are diminished by fluff or given little attention; Oster’s book did neither. But Cribsheet — hard data on child rearing — isn’t as specific to women (lots of people raise children, even if it is still treated as a female-coded job), and there’s simply more data out there as a result.
I did love the book though, and it’s a brilliant companion to Expecting Better and the similar Nuture Shock, but I just want another revelation like Oster’s first book.