Makin' Money

Parenting and personal finances

Chris Farrell Feb 8, 2012

The weekend Wall Street Journal article ran an intriguing article, Why French Parents are Superior. It’s still No. 1 on its list of most emailed articles. It’s a good read, adopted from Pamela Druckerman’s new book Bringing Up Bebe. She writes with insight about why French children are better behaved than American children. 

However, the article minimized the role of public policy in helping out French parents. I couldn’t buy it. Here’s her “to be sure” paragraph:

Of course, the French have all kinds of public services that help to make having kids more appealing and less stressful. Parents don’t have to pay for preschool, worry about health insurance or save for college. Many get monthly cash allotments — wired directly into their bank accounts — just for having kids.

But these public services don’t explain all of the differences.  

No, they may not explain all the differences. But that is a lot of support that American parents don’t get. Yes, culture matters. But institutions are also extremely important. I haven’t read the book, but my reaction is, Well, maybe American parents would be more like the French parents you admire if they had all the backing of those services.  Oui?

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.