[EconTalk] Susan Mayer on What Money Can’t Buy

Susan Mayer on What Money Can’t Buy

25/11/2019 by EconTalk: Russ Roberts

Web player: https://podplayer.net/?id=88008987
Episode: http://files.libertyfund.org/econtalk/y2019/Mayermoney.mp3

Sociologist Susan Mayer of the University of Chicago talks about her book What Money Can’t Buy with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Mayer reports on her research which found that giving poor parents money had little measured effect on improving the lives of their children. She emphasizes the importance of accurately understanding the challenges facing children in poverty if the goal is to actually help them. She concludes that there is no simple way to help the most vulnerable children and that strategies to help them must recognize this reality. The conversation ends with a discussion of the potential role of education and parenting practices to help children in poor families.

Listen Date: 2020-01-31


  • I think the most poignant part of the conversation was Susan Mayer talking about how parents know that they should read to their children, but regardless, don’t do it. Again, it’s that whole intersection of discipline, future self vs present self, and yet another addition to the pile of evidence contradicting Socrates saying that knowledge of the good is all that is necessary needed to lead a virtuous life.
  • Along with that, when she talked about how reminders to put the backpack next to the door might work better than simply giving money out – do we really live in a world where tiny lifehacks piled up function better than economic incentives?
  • In subreddit terms, is life r/politics, r/getdisciplined, or r/getmotivated?


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