, 52 tweets, 16 min read Read on Twitter
Glorious new books on immigration, politics, parenting, & democracy. Plus a proper cup of tea. The weekend starts now!
Across the world, many mothers struggle to manage work & family.

This persists if mums despondently accept the status quo, chastising their own failings, rather than expecting & demanding shared social responsibility.

This fantastic new book offers radical hope.
If we can’t even envision alternatives, we may not even ask for more.

Instead mums cut back on career ambitions, blame themselves for failing impossible ideals, & step back from top-jobs.

So it’s not enough for academics to just highlight the flawed status quo.
For people to invest in sustained activism, to mobilise for change, we need to see alternative possibilities.

We need to see “real utopias”.
This book by @caitymcollins fulfil’s Wright’s hope in 3 ways:

- Transcends parochialism, shows alternatives in other countries

- Evocatively conveys women’s struggles through qual research. We hear *their* voices, their perspectives

- Superbly accessible, engaging writing

Honestly, this is a book for a mass audience.

Women can pick it up, hear from women in other countries, and (rather than blame themselves for not baking a 🎂 for some school event), they can see how things could be different.
I’m a big fan of comparative analysis, esp through qual.

There are a bunch of edited volumes, bringing together experts from different places

But tbh they’re usually disappointing: not truly comparative.

Ideally the same author would have expertise in each place.

That’s hard
But that’s precisely what @caitymcollins has done: in-depth interviews with 135 employed, middle class mothers in the USA, Italy, Germany, & Sweden.

She shares their narratives, their expectations of government, their struggles.

And it is awesome comparative work!! 🙌
So, here’s my advice: but the book. You’ll find:

- Substantively important, nuanced, persuasive research

- Methodologically, this is 👌

- And the clear, accessible (kinda folksy) prose is inspirational

CC is a role model for those of us trying to go beyond the ivory towers🤘
“I’m doing everything subpar”

- the sentiments of many working moms in the 🇺🇸?

(pumping at their desks, using individual coping strategies, seeing child-rearing as a private responsibility, & blaming themselves for society’s collective failure to manage world-family conflicts)
“Rather than critique their long hours, demanding employers, or lack of workplace supports, (US) women tended to be upset with themselves” - @caitymcollins

These insights are so important, & crucially one only sees these omissions by doing qualitative comparative research.
US moms have a *terrible* deal.

So why don’t they campaign for reform? Why don’t they demand better?

They have low expectations, and despondently accept the status quo.
Tangent: this echoes @gabi_kw’s insights from India.

Some people only encounter a rude, unhelpful state, so have low expectations, & dont demand better services

But in districts with more responsive governance, citizens have higher expectations (just like CC finds in Sweden!!)
(Side note, if you’ve only just started following me, i am *nuts* about this positive feedback loop between higher expectations, greater mobilisation, and then iterative policy reform, which in turn raises expectations for better policies).
“American mothers had strikingly little in the way of support, but they didn’t realise it. They took personal responsibility for problems that Europeans recognised as having external causes” - @caitymcollins.
Whereas in Sweden...
82.5% of Swedes think government agencies should be the primary providers of childcare for children under school age


Government services are affordable, high quality, and everyone uses them. This is normal, expected. Shame to miss out!!
“I don’t think that expression exists in Swedish”.

Working motherhood is so normal, there’s not even a word to describe it because the alternative is seldom contemplated
(Hopefully @caitymcollins will forgive me... I’ve butchered the structure of her book because I wanted to end on a happy note 😊)
Update: @caitymcollins *has* forgiven me, AND WE'RE GOING TO DO A PODCAST!! 🤗
Now a book for #EconTwitter!!

How economics shapes cultural practices, & explains cross-national variation in parenting styles!!

Why are Swedes so permissive, while US & Chinese parents are much more pushy?

Inequality! & high stakes in achievement incentivise intense parenting
So this book is quite similar to @caitymcollins’s:

Both use cross-national research to explain the structural, econ & policy causes of parenting styles.

But this book focuses not on *who* cares for the kids (mother/father),

But on *how* they care (authoritative/ permissive).
Inequality is key determinant of parenting style.

This explains change over time, and differences between countries

- @mdoepke & Zilibotti.
Parents spend much more time with their kids than a few decades ago.

Why might this be?
As a gender scholar, I’m familiar with data showing a rise in intensive parenting.

But I’d never considered this explanation before

Yet the book is VERY persuasive!

Shows how parenting style affects school performance, & that this is a rational response to external incentives!
Intensive parenting improves school outcomes,

PISA scores in South Korea, 2012 (this echoes a wider trend)
Children are not so likely to go to uni if their parents have not been.

But their prospects rise if they have intensive/ authoritative parents.

Parenting style matters for upward mobility
Key premises:

1) there’s been a rise in intensive parenting

2) intensive parenting improves school performance

3) this is *correlated* with growing inequality & higher stakes.
High inequality & high returns to education are also associated with more intense parenting ACROSS COUNTRIES.

(Graphs plot permissive parenting against income inequality, & annual returns to university)
But what about reverse causation? Or just coincidence? 🤨

They test for that!

We see lagged effects.

As each country becomes more unequal, their cultural practices change: more intense parenting.
That said, richer families are certainly more able to invest time & resources in intense parenting.

This is much much harder for poorer families (esp single parents), juggling multiple precarious jobs.

This compounds existing inequalities.
“The Parenting Trap” can be overcome by:

- reducing after-tax inequality, which constrains poor parents;

- supporting disadvantaged children (with affordable, high quality childcare & preschool, which also have wider benefits for society).
I should add, @mdoepke & Zilibotti do not suggest that “economics explains everything”.

But it’s very much about parents’ *expectations* about what’s in their children’s best interests (as inferred from observations of wider society, so this includes civil rights & religion).
So the implication then is that it’s not so much about parents’ internalised ideologies (what they think is right or wrong),

But rather their *expectations* of what will enable their children to thrive in that particular time & place.
So whereas some say parents treat sons & daughters differently because they’ve internalised gender ideologies (think boys are smarter)

MD & FZ: altruistic parents also respond to external incentives

(my research supports this, as does much subnational comparative analysis)
So, I’d add, while many Dev interventions try to “sensitise parents about gender equality”, this neglect *expectations* (learnt through observations & interactions).

Want parents to invest in girls learning?

Amplify exposure to women in jobs, so they see benefits to 🏫!
MD & FZ also show how 🤑 incentives influence fertility choices. They draw on quant data.

Here i’d flag Daniel Jordan Smith’s fabulous ethnographic work on Nigeria.

When wealth depends on who you know, it’s beneficial to have many kids, many connections jstor.org/stable/3401384…
Even if you’re an economist, interested in 💰 incentives, there are many qualitative studies that can help us understand how people pereceuve & navigate those incentives

NOT a criticism but imo there are many qual studies that’d buttress their argument, eg work on migration & 👇
I should emphasise, that’s not a criticism AT ALL.

The book is awesome: draws on a fantastic breadth of research, across a global range of countries; very clearly written; & utterly fascinating.

This is just a note to econs:

Qual insights can make your arguments stronger 💪
Heads up: the next tweet is NOT an argument made by the authors, but rather my interpretation of their data & analysis.
If ur troubled by competitive parenting,

STOP trying to promote attitudinal change (eg praising articles about permissive Swedes),

START mobilising against inequality & for universal access to quality education,

So we enjoy the economic environ that *enables* permissive Swedes
Also, I’d 💖more economists to write books for the general public.

This is a brilliant model

Very clear, easy to read

NO JARGON or complex terminology

NO ALIENATING, complex quant analysis

NO refs in parentheses, all in endnotes

So a fun, easy Saturday afternoon read 🤗
Btw, if you see my positive tweets and infer I praise everything,

That’s not the case at all.

If I read a book I don’t find very interesting or persuasive (n=15 this year), I don’t tweet about it.
Free trade & international competition has curbed business support for low skill immigration. Instead of lobbying they just procure offshore.

This - by @MigrationNerd - is perhaps the best international political economy book I’ve ever read.
This is meticulously researched,

It draws on careful quant analysis (all the regressions are shown),

& detailed process-tracing case studies of the Netherlands & Singapore (to address the possibility of reverse causality).

@MigrationNerd an incredibly astute argument:
Immigration policy isn’t merely about domestic politics; it’s also shaped by other foreign policies. Free trade provides outside options for business.

Wow. And yes!!

This book is ground-breaking. I’m instantly convinced that @MigrationNerd is a genius 🙌
Implication: if Trump heavily restricts immigration, *more* firms may source offshore, or automate production to deal with scarcity.

That’s what happened in Singapore, & see this recent NYT piece.

I especially 💖 that @MigrationNerd explicitly discusses the limitations of different kinds of data,

then endlessly tries to test & triangulate different hypotheses.

She is my hero!
So she’s one of these awesome mega stars who (like my BFF @rambletastic) does rigorous quant & comparative qual 🤩
Throughout the book, @MigrationNerd continually engages with alternative hypotheses.

If you teach political science, i’d strong recommend assigning this as a core reading.

It’s a superb example of analytical rigor. So useful for students (AND ME, still learning! 🙋‍♀️)
I’m pretty sure this is one of the most analytically rigorous & profoundly ground-breaking books I’ve ever read.

It is utterly mind-blowing (& kinda intimidating...😳).
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