Photo of the day

From the Telegraph’s week in photos.  Alas, I’m horrible at funny captions, but the possibilities here seem pretty limitless:

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) gestures while chatting with US President Barack Obama sitting on a bench outside the Elmau Castle after a working session of a G7 summit near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany

Is Angela Merkel showing Barack Obama her best Julie Andrews impression from the Sound of Music? Germany’s Chancellor and the US President were taking a break during the G7 summit at the Elmau Castle near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, southern Germany.Picture: MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty Images

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How working moms are good for kids

Had this Upshot post open forever.  Finally wanted to write a quick post.  With all the “mommy wars” as a constant in our culture, here’s some interesting research on how it is good for kids to have a working mom:

Nearly three-quarters of American mothers with children at home are employed. That fact doesn’t necessarily make it any easier for mothers to drop a toddler at day care or miss school plays. The mommy wars might seem like a relic of the 1990s, but 41 percent of adults say the increase in working mothers is bad for society, while just 22 percent say it is good, according to the Pew Research Center.

Yet evidence is mounting that having a working mother has some economic, educational and social benefits for children of both sexes. That is not to say that children do not also benefit when their parents spend more time with them — they do. But we make trade-offs in how we spend our time, and research shows that children of working parents also accrue benefits. [emphasis mine]

In a new study of 50,000 adults in 25 countries, daughters of working mothers completed more years of education, were more likely to be employed and in supervisory roles and earned higher incomes. Having a working mother didn’t influence the careers of sons, which researchers said was unsurprising because men were generally expected to work — but sons of working mothers did spend more time on child care and housework…

Other researchers are less confident that the data has proved such a large effect, because it is difficult to know whether a mother who worked caused her daughter to work, or whether other factors were more influential. “The problem is we don’t know how these mothers differed,” said Raquel Fernandez, an economics professor at New York University who was not involved with the Harvard study but who has also studied the topic. “Was it really her mother working who did this, or was it her mother getting an education?”

Either way, the new study is part of a shift away from focusing on whether working mothers hurt children and toward a richer understanding of the relationship between work and family.

Okay, I know what you are thinking, good social scientist that you are, but the study authors are good social scientists, too:

Ms. McGinn said she ran dozens of tests to see if the results could be explained by something other than the mother’s time at work — like the influence of a broader culture in which women worked more frequently, or the benefits of a mother’s increased income — but they could not. She controlled for factors including age, education and family makeup. The effects shrank after she controlled for these, but Ms. McGinn said the difference was still statistically significant.

Obviously, this is complicated stuff and there’s many different factors as play, but it’s hard to argue that working mothers are bad for children.  As I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before, parenting is far more about quality than quantity, and clearly most working moms are doing pretty well with quality.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Using DNA, scientists have uncovered the genetic origins of modern Europeans (and those of European descent).  I had never heard of the Yamnaya, but their expansion into Europe 4500 years ago was key.  Fascinating stuff.

2) The Dean of the College of Engineering at Cornell argues that Social Sciences (hmmm, he didn’t say Humanities, though) are as important as STEM fields.

3) Indigenous people have way less back pain.  I’ve been pretty good so far, but this is one part of aging I definitely worry about.

4) Enjoyed Connor Friedersdorf’s take on Hastert.  Regardless of what the man did, should it really be a crime to withdraw your own money from the bank?

5) How one woman has made women with, interesting (?) faces all the rage in fashion modeling.

6) Plenty of charts on the decline of American social capital.   (I.e., why can’t we all just get along?)

7) The TSA doesn’t really work very well.  And maybe that’s okay.

8) I’d argue for John Williams as the greatest orchestral composer of the 20th century.  Here’s a ranking of his movie scores (personally, I’d put Indiana Jones #2, but this is a great list).

9) What poverty does to the young brain.  Of course, for conservatives, that’s no excuse.  Poor kids just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, damnit!

Over the past decade, the scientific consensus has become clear: poverty perpetuates poverty, generation after generation, by acting on the brain. The National Scientific Council has been working directly with policymakers to support measures that break this cycle, including better prenatal and pediatric care and more accessible preschool education. Levitt and his colleagues have also been advocating for changing laws that criminalize drug abuse during pregnancy, since, as they pointed out in a review paper, arrest and incarceration can also trigger the “maternal stress response system.” The story that science is now telling rearranges the morality of parenting and poverty, making it harder to blame problem children on problem parents. Building a healthy brain, it seems, is an act of barn raising.

10) Yes, they do teach creationism in science class in Louisiana.

11) The General Motors bailout was quite successful.  Somebody forgot to tell Republican presidential candidates.

12) Mark Ruffalo on “not a feminist.”

13) The story of Kalief Browder is horrible and everything wrong with American criminal justice.  And now he’s dead of suicide and undoubtedly a victim of the injustice done to him.

14) Love this visualization of how famous brand logos have evolved over time.

15) Does smoking marijuana interfere with math skills?  An intriguing natural experiments suggests, yes.

 

 

 

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