The Tiger Mom vs. the Manicotti Mom

The RBC isn’t meant to be a funny so skip this entry.   The WSJ has published a funny piece by Joe Queenan. He writes; “Speaking from my own experience, I would argue that the best mothers are Italian-Americans, in part because they are warm and affectionate, but mostly because of the manicotti. When I was a kid, my own Irish-American mother was a terrible cook, so I would dutifully eat the remains of whatever luckless animal she’d just burned to a crisp, puke it up and then run down the street to Richie Giardinelli’s house, where his mother was always baking ziti or cooking up a fresh pot of meatballs or making manicotti.”

Queenan’s piece does touch on the important issue of the “accident of birth“.  To maximize your chances in life, who do you wish was your mom?    In a similar spirit as  Bruce Sacerdote’s work,  a researcher could use data for adopted children and ideally hope that adopted kids are randomly assigned to some Tiger Moms, to some Italian-American moms etc and then compare average outcomes for the kids across these different moms.   Convincing?

 

Author: Matthew E. Kahn

Professor of Economics at UCLA.

11 thoughts on “The Tiger Mom vs. the Manicotti Mom”

  1. Maurice Sendak said in an interview with Terry Gross, “Mr. SENDAK: Yes, the spoke more Yiddish. I spoke Yiddish as a child. My parents spoke English very, very late and very poorly. And we lived in a part of Brooklyn, which was teeming with immigrants, either people from Eastern Europe, Jews or Sicilians and I couldn’t tell the difference. I mean, we lived next to the Sicilians and I had a real – it sounds like coy conceit, but it’s a fact. I had a real confusion because right across the hall from us was my best friend at one place we lived, Carmine(ph), and his sisters and brothers and his huge mother and huge father just across the hall. And I used to run across the hall because they had un-Kosher food.

    (Soundbite of laughter)

    Mr. SENDAK: It was much better, much better than Kosher food because it was – it was pasta. It was great Italian cooking. And they laughed and they drank wine, and they grabbed me, and I sat on their laps and they had a hell of a good time. And then you come back to my house and you have this sober cuisine and not so rambunctious family life. And I really did have a confusion that Italians were happy Jews, that they were a sect.”

  2. To maximize your chances in life, who do you wish was your mom?

    If Barbara Bush was your mom you could be President no matter what your lack of virtue or talent.

    1. Barbara Bush is one of the biggest idiots to have occupied the White House. She’s directly responsible for her doofus children (it seems only one of them has any intelligence that would have been there regardless of the privileged family position). She’s also a despot. No, she is not a good choice, even she was mother to a president and a governor.

      1. I understood Calling All Toaster’s comment as a sideways, “Italian, schmalian, Tiger, schmiger, just pick parents who have lots of privilege and you’ll inherit it along with their good looks.” Though that’s what I think, anyway. Don’t think your mom has to be a former first lady — being the child of say, a physician or attorney should do well enough. But that doesn’t make as witty a comment as naming Barbara Bush does.

  3. Parents are determinative of just about everything we are in life. That there are so many who who would disagree with (or simply cannot get their heads around) this general principle explains much of why humans still can’t get their act together. The sooner we can begin to see how this puts us all on the hook for collective responsibility, the better. The rich and poor among us, all tied together by the same causal web.

  4. “In a similar spirit as Bruce Sacerdote’s work, a researcher could use data for adopted children and ideally hope that adopted kids are randomly assigned to some Tiger Moms, to some Italian-American moms etc and then compare average outcomes for the kids across these different moms. Convincing?”

    IIRC, one of the problems with the famous Minnesota twin data was that there was a statistically significant intra-twin correlation for religious beliefs (on the level of Catholic vs. Lutheran).

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