245. Family Firm with Emily Oster

Dr. Emily Oster, author of The Family Firm, Expecting Better and Cribsheet, has dedicated her career to discovering the hard, data-backed truths about parenting strategies. In this episode of POTC, she delivers some of those parenting truths to you. Emily then delights Yael by going beyond the world of data-driven parenting to discuss how to ask good questions in complicated parts of life (and how to answer them!). Emily also shares tools for gathering good information from the media—even if you aren’t someone with a science background. Join the conversation as Yael and Emily discuss The Family Firm and making wise choices within very complicated life roles.

Listen and Learn:

  • Yael and Jill discuss strategies to approaching thorny parenting decisions
  • Differences between parenting in early versus middle years of childhood
  • The benefits to thinking about family, co-parenting, and marriage as a firm
  • How Emily’s family has applied this data to their personal lives (and her family’s mission statement!)
  • Practical advice for staying engaged as a parent while maintaining a demanding career
  • The importance of framing good questions and evidence-based strategies for doing so
  • The Family Firm approach to making decisions: The Four F’s
  • What the data says about social pressure and extracurriculars
  • Consideration of how scientists should be interacting with systems outside of science 
  • Emily’s personal experience with being outspoken about data with people who have strong feelings otherwise
  • How those interested in evidence can interact with media in ways that are less biased
  • The inside scoop on Emily’s data-driven newsletter


About Emily Oster:

Emily Oster, PhD, is a Professor of Economics at Brown University and the author of Expecting Better, Cribsheet, and The Family Firm. She holds a PhD in Economics from Harvard. Prior to being at Brown she was on the faculty at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Oster’s academic work focuses on health economics and statistical methods. She is interested in understanding why consumers do not always make “rational” health choices — why do people not eat a fully healthy diet, or pursue all recommended preventative health behaviors? Her work also concerns methods for learning causal effects from observational data. Sign up for her newsletter and check out her website for all the most recent updates on data related to pregnancy and parenting!

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Episode 245