15 Sep 2008

The Economics of Potty Training

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Ah, if I were a tenured academic, the papers I could write…

I am struggling with my toddler. For other economist daddies (and mommies), you will appreciate the applications of formal analysis to this topic. You’ve got principal-agent problems requiring payoff rules that are incentive-compatible and overcome seriously asymmetric information. (This latter leads to both Type 1 and Type 2 errors–get it?–of sitting idly on the potty but also having malinvestment in one’s pants.)

For the undergraduate level, you can do a simple analysis in terms of the game Chicken. Make sure the cell for strategy profile (Keep Playing With Toys, Call Kid’s Bluff) yields payoffs of (-1, -100) when Toddler gets uncomfortably damp and Daddy has to let his dinner get cold while he disinfects the dining room floor.

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