Childhood Roundup #1

post by Zvi · 2023-01-06T13:00:00.915Z · LW · GW · 27 comments


  Let Your Children Play
  Childless World
  School Daze
  Fight Fiercely Harvard
  What Is Good In Life?
  Child Tax Credit Blues

I have a few shorter more focused posts in the works, including my practical short version of On Bounded Distrust. In the meantime, it makes sense to continue to clean out the backlog of roundup style things.

Let Your Children Play

We have gone insane on this.

Sane 2022 parents of 10-year-olds: I would like to let you go outside without me. I am terrified that someone will call the cops and they will take you away from me.

That is a thing now. As in parents being thrown in jail for letting their eight year old child walk home from school on their own.

As they stood on her porch, the officers told Wallace that her son could have been kidnapped and sex trafficked. “‘You don’t see much sex trafficking where you are, but where I patrol in downtown Waco, we do,'” said one of the cops, according to Wallace.

Did things get more dangerous since 1980, when we were mostly sane about this? No. They got vastly less dangerous, in all ways other than the risk of someone calling the cops.

The numbers on ‘sex trafficking’ and kidnapping by strangers are damn near zero.

The incident caused ‘ruin your life’ levels of damage.

Child services had the family agree to a safety plan, which meant Wallace and her husband could not be alone with their kids for even a second. Their mothers—the children’s grandmothers—had to visit and trade off overnight stays in order to guarantee the parents were constantly supervised. After two weeks, child services closed Wallace’s case, finding the complaint was unfounded.

Wallace’s sister has started a GoFundMe for her. She is in debt after losing her job and paying for the lawyer and the diversion program. She also hopes to hire a lawyer to get her record expunged so that she can work with kids again.

One of my closest friends here in New York is strongly considering moving to the middle of nowhere so that his child will be able to walk around outside, because it is not legally safe to do that anywhere there are people.

Claim that UNICEF thinks Dutch children are the happiest in the world and that this is because they bike everywhere, things are designed to make this work, and they therefore have freedom to move around.

Childless World

This is also related to the thing where a lot of places give off the vibe that life does not involve children, and children are a weird, shameful and irresponsible lifestyle choice.

I sense this type of attitude ebb and flow in power as I move between places.

School Daze

It’s not like the kids were attending school that much anyway (MR). The chart is San Francisco, but it is far from unique in this. This headline says ‘41% of NYC students were chronically absent’ last year, versus a historical expectation of ~25%.

Note that in school parlance, ‘chronic absentee’ means you missed 18 days of school out of 180. Thus, someone who reports as demanded 90% of the time is still ‘chronically absent,’ no matter the cause.

Public school enrollment continues to be 3% below pre-pandemic levels. Many responded with ‘at least some good has come of this.’

The degree of learning in schools, even high end ones, leaves something to be desired.


I simply don’t know how to update far enough in the appropriate directions.

A paper compared students answers on homework questions to their later answers to the same question posed on an exam. They found that in the past this correlation was high, and said this meant that the homework helped students. One obvious alternative explanation is that knowing X is correlated with knowing X.

None of this is ‘benefit.’ Then, the study notes that this correlation has gone down, due to a large group of students who don’t show this pattern – they get the homework right by copying it, then get the exam question wrong anyway.

Via MR, paper from India says that 18 months of school closure cost students 0.7 sigma declines in math and 0.34 in language by December 2021, but two thirds of it was made up within six months, with a claim that an after school program aided this recovery. If it is this easy to catch back up, a lot of time must be getting wasted.

Null hypothesis watch via MR, as paper claims short unit on self-regulation in first grade has substantial positive effects on children’s entire academic careers.

Math Trainer program for faster mental arithmetic. You know, for kids.

A parable.

This was originally in the context of kids in particular trouble. It works even better as a simple description of school in general. This is not an outlier-only problem. What do you do when kids don’t want to go to school? What percentage of kids do you think want to go to school, or would if they felt they had any choice in the matter? If they thought ‘not going’ wouldn’t lead to escalating retaliations?

Can anyone wonder why in-person schooling raises youth suicide rates (paper)?

Along with everything else it does, school dramatically raises the economic cost of raising kids even if tuition is zero. Those who can have their children help run farms or other businesses have a large advantage over those that do not while also having larger families. Does doing this cripple their children’s future? It does if society explicitly retaliates sufficiently hardcore against those not sacrificing a decade to properly signal. If it is more a question of who learns more and more useful things, the answer is far less clear. As long as some attention is given directly to core academic subjects I would be inclined to take someone who had real world experience trying to accomplish things or especially starting and doing business, over those who spent that time in classrooms.

Fight Fiercely Harvard

Rob Henderson speculates it might be good that we don’t expand Harvard and other schools, because those with those degrees feel entitled to elite status. Disgruntled people who didn’t get the status they feel entitled to cause instability. An alternative hypothesis is that the elite status they want is going to Harvard and their kids going to Harvard, which you can totally fix by letting more people go to Harvard.

Tyler Cowen calls his post the battle for academic standards. I would have called it the battle against academic standards.


Several responses along the lines of ‘Harvard is getting more selective’ and Orin responds with variations on ‘a possibility worth examining.’ No. Effect size is too big.

Half of all sub-4.0 space eliminated in ten years because the students are that much smarter and more interested in maximizing grades? There’s that many more great students out there? Really?

The decline in acceptance rate is also, upon quick examination, mostly a mirage. It is driven by a rise in applications. I do not think Harvard is much more selective in 2022 than it was in 2012. What is happening is the practical cost of applying to Harvard is declining. Also students are realizing that even if they have a 1% chance of getting in, what is it worth to get into Harvard?

When I was applying to colleges, my high school refused to cooperate with more than seven applications. Thus I didn’t apply to Harvard or MIT, despite them being obviously my #1 and #2 picks in some order if I were to get in, because they seemed too unlikely even as reaches, and am still bitter Stanford tricked my parents into eating a slot. If I’d had a common application and free run of the place? I’d have applied for a minimum of 20-30 places, maybe 50+, on the theory that someone might randomly value qualifying for the USAMO on a particular day more than anyone else, and the value of a better college or a strangely generous scholarship is super high – toss them all in the air for a few thousand dollars, and then see what my real choices were. I doubt it changes where I end up going given how things worked out, but you never know, maybe MIT, Harvard or Yale says yes. It sure drives down acceptance rates at the top.

My old high school’s traditional rival, Thomas Jefferson, withheld news of National Merit awards from families, which many say is sabotaging their college admissions. If you want equal outcomes, you have two options, and one is a hell of a lot easier than the other.

I push back against the idea that this advances no interests. College admissions are ideally a matching problem. In practice, on the margins of merit scholars, college admissions are a zero sum signaling game. This is not going to change the number of kids admitted to various schools, or the amount of scholarship money available. If you want to advance the interests of your group at the expense of another group, on whatever basis, then this seems like a relatively harmless way to do that. And yes, this would advance the interests of politically preferred groups, because it disproportionally hurts other students from other groups in the zero sum game.

They still gave the awards to students, but too late to include them on early admissions applications. That’s quite the albatross on its own. It is where the extra push is most valuable.

I do see advantage in not telling parents or other students. This lets recipients decide whether to inform others.

Why would a student not inform others about such an award? Presumably because the parents would then do things the kid wants to avoid, like endlessly bragging about it to everyone, or forcing the kid to apply to schools they don’t want or competitions they hate, or things like that. I speak from personal experience here.

Similarly, if a student wants to tell other students about the award, they can do that. If they want to avoid this for whatever social reasons – and I can think of quite a few good ones – they can avoid it. Making a big deal out of it is not obviously doing the kid any favors.

And yes, sometimes that choice to hide this info will be because the kid is less ambitious, or less prioritizing of academics, and thus will end up at a ‘worse’ school. That is their choice. I do not see this as obviously hostile.

Tyler Cowen says universities are in crisis and declining in status. He notes the new emphasis on computer science, where they are outcompeted by the private sector for status because status there is based on capability and accomplishment and real world tests.

He notes there is youth mental health crisis, which he says is not the fault of colleges. Why is he so sure? We have structured young lives around taking on debt to go to college, and putting immense pressure on to follow the rules of the dance so you can get in. Ideological movements that are rooted in college campuses and that instill their ideas into children are, shall we say, not helping their mental health outlooks. If we got rid of college as a default life path, I bet that solves a good portion of our youth mental health crisis.

He does not link up declining academia with grade inflation or declining academic standards. Seems like an important piece of the puzzle.

He says students have more absences, excuses and missed assignments lately, and says this makes it harder to run an effective university. My guess is this is more a symptom of decline than a cause. Students have realized the returns to anything but the sheepskin effect are not so high, and required efforts to pass are lower than ever.

This goes hand in hand with his observation that the smartest people no longer want to be in academia. Its requirements seem onerous, jobs are difficult to get, and for what? I would at this point classify trying to be a professor as similar to writer or rock star, something you only do if you can’t not do it.

What Is Good In Life?

Teach your children well.


I simultaneously would have answered ‘no,’ would expect most people in my social circles to answer no, think it is clear that this being a near-universal is a very bad sign, and also that 25.6% is terrifying. It’s something like ‘there is a right amount of the thing this is a proxy for, and that very much is not it.’

Child Tax Credit Blues

(I plan to talk more about this on its own in the future.)

A good idea is to Give Parents Money to help them raise their children and to reduce the net financial burden on those who decide to have (more) kids. It reduces child poverty, it is equitable, it makes people’s lives better, it increases birth rates that need to increase, it enables more people to have the things that matter in life.

The problem is that, despite initial hopes that such an obviously good idea would also be highly popular, this has not proven to be the case. A lot of that is due to people really disliking it when either such payments are framed as ‘welfare’ or when they go to ‘people who don’t need them.’

So both the too poor and the too rich need to be screened out, despite such payments to both such groups making good sense. Very poor children need our help. Those that are ‘rich’ face effectively very high costs to raising children, due to the cost of schools, nannies and space in the expensive places they live, and the high hourly opportunity cost of their own time. It certainly makes sense to give them relative help, shifting funds from the childless rich to the rich with children, which is what the credit would do (since it is then paid for via progressive taxation that can be adjusted to be more progressive, if desired).

The other problem is that means testing is a logistical nightmare in the best of times, and mostly we suck at implementation. For example, see the latest proposal in New York. It pays out quarterly, so everyone’s income needs to be estimated in advance to decide who gets those payments in what quantity, and then everyone has to jump through hoops to explain when expectations should change and that they made ‘good faith’ efforts to keep estimates accurate and so on.

Whereas the obviously correct solution, as Matt Yglesias points out, is to pay everyone the maximum, at least on the ‘too rich’ end, and then collect it back in the form of an additional tax. Which would then in turn point out that the system adds up to an absurdity, which I would consider a feature but I would expect the legislature to consider it a bug. Perhaps this could dodge being misrepresented if the rich person algorithm was entirely handled on one’s tax return.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by tgb · 2023-01-06T16:05:29.174Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I simultaneously would have answered ‘no,’ would expect most people in my social circles to answer no, think it is clear that this being a near-universal is a very bad sign, and also that 25.6% is terrifying. It’s something like ‘there is a right amount of the thing this is a proxy for, and that very much is not it.’

At the risk of being too honest, I find passages written like this horribly confusing and never know what you mean when you write like this. ("this" being near universal - what is "this"? ("answering no" like you and your friends or "answering yes" like most of the survey respondents?) 25.6% is terrifying because you think it is high or low? What thing do you think "this" is a proxy for?)

For me, the survey question itself seems bad because it's very close to two radically different ideas:

- I base my self-worth on my parent's judgement of me.

- My parents are kind, intelligent people whose judgement making is generally of very high quality. Since they are also biased towards positive views of me, if they judged me poorly then I would take that as serious evidence that I am not living up to what I aspire of myself.

The first sounds unhealthy. The second sounds healthy - at least assuming that one's parents are in fact kind, intelligent, and generally positively disposed to their children at default. I'm not confident which of the two a "yes" respondent is agreeing to or a "no" is disagreeing with.

Replies from: Zvi, Dagon, Benito, lise
comment by Zvi · 2023-01-10T14:41:02.573Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thank you. I agree that the phrasing here wasn't as clear as it could be and I'll watch out for similar things in the future (I won't be fixing this instance because I don't generally edit posts after the first few days unless they are intended to be linked to a lot in the future, given how traffic works these days.) 

If it's still confusing, I meant: I would not say that making my parents proud is one of my main goals in life. I would expect [people I know] to mostly also not see this as one of their main goals. I think that the percentage of people answering yes is a proxy that correlates to virtues that it is possible to have too much or too little of individually or as a society, a type of respect for family and tradition and accomplishment and other neat (but possible to overdo) stuff like that. A number like 25.6% indicates a terrifyingly low amount of such virtues, such that I would worry about the future of such a country, the same way 99% is terrifyingly high.

Or that you can't actually fully get rid of your 1st thing without also getting rid of the 2nd thing, not in practice - you don't want too many people basing too much of their self worth on (especially solely on) their parents judgment of them, but you also don't want them disregarding such preferences either. 

Replies from: tgb
comment by tgb · 2023-01-12T13:26:47.681Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the clarification! In fact, that opinion wasn't even one of the ones I had considered you might have.

comment by Dagon · 2023-01-07T03:45:08.700Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's a lot of room for cultural interpretation of "one of my main goals in life".  Some will take this as "one of my top-3 far-mode indicators of success", some will take it as "this is at least somewhat important to me".  I'd be shocked if many US intellectuals said "yes" to this, as they're likely to interpret it the first way, and it's low-status compared to having an impact or making your own way.  And I'd be shocked if many people (a majority, but nowhere near unanimity - many people are far more aware than in previous generations of the flaws of their elders) wouldn't say "yes" if it were framed the second way. 

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2023-01-06T20:33:48.870Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The line is "One of my main goals in life is to make my parents proud". 

I am interested to know my parents' opinion on my life, and consider their general advice as an input, but I think if anyone told me it was their primary goal, then I'd anticipate they were shortsighted and needed to get out of their bubble. The people I've met who are most likely to say that I think are people who will never move out of the town they were born in, and don't have any truly ambitious goals.

For instance, if the question was a proxy for "Tick yes if you've not found many meanings or purposes that are worth devoting your life to beyond the immediate relationships you were born into, and may never leave your home town" then it would seem drastically too high to me, by around 10x.

In contrast the question I'd like to see be high is something more like "I have a loving relationship with my parents". That seems healthy to me.

comment by lise · 2023-01-08T19:47:08.237Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(commenting just to say I upvoted for the "horribly confusing" line)

comment by Rohin Shah (rohinmshah) · 2023-01-07T10:36:47.520Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Re: "Many UC Berkeley upper division computer science students can't even write for loops or multiply matrices" -- I was one of the most active TAs (teaching assistant) at UC Berkeley 2012-15 (I TA'd six times for five distinct courses, three of which were upper division) and this does not accurately describe the student population during that time. You'd have a hard time passing the intro courses without being able to write for loops (maybe you pass 61A but I expect you don't get through 61B unless you're cheating).

If you look at the screenshot, it suggests that this is a post-COVID issue because the students took the lower division courses P/NP -- that sounds much more believable (particularly since I'd guess that courses lowered their standards for "passing" during COVID), but doesn't imply some general update about UC Berkeley CS students overall.

I also suspect there's more context that isn't captured in the screenshot, but didn't find a link to the source.

Replies from: habryka4
comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2023-01-07T21:55:32.299Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(This is not much direct evidence, mostly just sharing a fun anecdote)

Somewhat hilariously I think this was kind of true about me when I took CS188 at Berkeley. I got really into Lisp before I got to Berkeley, and then took the CS61AS lisp version of the class, and then did indeed write in-retrospect really horrifyingly bad code that instead of using for loops used recursion for all of my assignments in CS 188. 

I did recently look into the code I wrote during that time and found it quite bad, and I probably didn't actually know the syntax for a for-loop in python, and I was among one of the better coders in my class (ignoring my terrifying tendency to write everything in terrible LISP). 

comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann · 2023-01-07T20:44:04.809Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Genuine question : how much your opinion on college and higher education are due to the American system being insane ?

Because for example in France university/college is mostly free. Nobody get into debt to pay for tuition. How much would it change your opinion?

Replies from: Zvi, korin43
comment by Zvi · 2023-01-10T14:42:46.979Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Being free to the student (although of course the French overall still pay taxes to fund the real costs) makes it less toxic, but it also means you have that much less excuse if  you don't go. So my guess is this makes it maybe 25% less bad?

comment by Brendan Long (korin43) · 2023-02-11T22:44:55.733Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Presumably French universities still cost 4+ years of your life, which is the majority of the cost of US universities as well. The financial cost of sane schools in the US is fairly low.

comment by Isma · 2023-01-06T14:29:11.390Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

this hyperlink leads to a dead link

comment by Dagon · 2023-01-07T03:37:39.543Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

College admissions are ideally a matching problem. In practice, on the margins of merit scholars, college admissions are a zero sum signaling game. This is not going to change the number of kids admitted to various schools, or the amount of scholarship money available

Now do housing!  Or top-tier jobs.  Or really anything with finite supply and infinite demand.

Replies from: Zvi
comment by Zvi · 2023-01-10T14:44:33.437Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

OK, I'll do housing [LW · GW] as well, no problem. Or top tier jobs [LW · GW].

Replies from: Dagon
comment by Dagon · 2023-01-10T17:05:58.651Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In fact, I read and enjoyed those - I don't mean to take anything away from them.  But I do note that "ideally X is a matching problem" is a framing that COULD be used for many topics, and I don't have a great explanation for why it'd be correct for universities and not for housing.

comment by jaspax · 2023-01-06T15:47:47.611Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I find it surprising that answers to the question about making your parents proud are so low in so many northern European countries. I would obviously answer the question "yes". Important to note that they're not asking if it's your primary goal or your only goal, only if it's one of your major goals, and that seems like a much lower bar. In particular, that goal seems entirely synergistic with other widespread goals such as having a good marriage and career.

I would expect that this only gets answered "no" if (a) you have a very bad relationship with your parents, with a very significant clash of values, or (b) if the target for "pleasing parents" is excessively narrow, e.g. they will only accept you going into one particular occupation that you don't like. And these are both things that do happen, but they can't be that common, can they?

Replies from: JesperO, Ericf
comment by JesperO · 2023-01-07T01:28:55.044Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, I'll give you some context. I am Scandinavian, and inclined to answer "no". Here's why: 

Making my parents proud does not really feel like one of my main goals. I care about having a loving relationship with my parents, and I care about my parents being healthy, happy etc. I know they are proud of me, but it doesn't feel like an important goal in itself. 

Note: They do have very similar values and we're all generally happy with the relationship.

Also, they don't have any narrow standards for being pleased, rather the opposite. Like, I have different views on politics and have made some life decisions they'd disprefer - but they are overall chill about that and don't really pressure me to adopt their views and preferred choices. 

I suspect actually parents being less controlling of their kids in Scandinavia may be related to the lower emphasis on "making your parents proud".

Replies from: Dagon
comment by Dagon · 2023-01-07T03:46:56.243Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh, that's a REALLY interesting point.  I'm Scandinavian in heritage, though a number of generations in Canada and the US, and I also would answer "no".  Not because it's unimportant, but because I already have it, and it was never really in question.  

comment by Ericf · 2023-01-06T22:45:57.136Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You could also say "no" if:

  1. You don't have "goals in life"
  2. Your parents are dead
  3. You don't care what your parents (or anyone else) thinks (a fairly common feeling among Autism Spectrum folx)
  4. You are focused on one or two important things (goal: get a promotion / get an A in this class / etc.), and nebulous "make my parents proud" things aren't as important.
  5. You interpret the question as referring to both or all your parents, but one or more of the previously mentioned reasons apply to some of your parents, so while you might want to make "my mom" proud, that doesn't apply to "my dad" or "my stepmom" and therefore you don't consider "my parents" a unified entity.
comment by mikbp · 2023-01-07T22:36:42.305Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Along with everything else it does, school dramatically raises the economic cost of raising kids even if tuition is zero.


I really don't get this, can anyone explain it?


In general, after reading this post, I feel very happy to have been raised in Europe.

Replies from: korin43
comment by Brendan Long (korin43) · 2023-02-11T22:47:19.981Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think he's arguing that if kids aren't in school they could be doing something productive (working, chores, family business).

I don't think anything this article talks about is meaningfully different in Europe?

Replies from: mikbp
comment by mikbp · 2023-04-06T12:29:51.587Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry, I haven't noticed your reply.

I think he's arguing that if kids aren't in school they could be doing something productive (working, chores, family business).

Well, this is assuming that education is not productive. Even if its only use were signalling, it is useful. But if children don't go to school, they cannot work legally until 14y, at least in Europe. Which means that there has to be someone taking care of them, which is the opposite of cheap.

I don't think anything this article talks about is meaningfully different in Europe?

I don't remember anymore the post, sorry, but it might be because social benefits making it cheap to attend school in Europe or because the school system here seems to work better? Teachers seem to be in general better paid in Europe and there are no extreme problems, nor could anybody think that having armed security is anything necessary or useful or a good idea at all. And, at least for higher education, it is usually for free, for example.

Replies from: korin43
comment by Brendan Long (korin43) · 2023-04-06T20:12:09.588Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was just trying to respond to the original question. Being required to send kids to school raises the cost of kids because you can't have them do work during that time. Legal limits on working ages do the same thing, although officially-working isn't the only open (consider chores and family businesses). Other reasons school increases the cost of having kids is that parents may need to use their own time to transport kids to school and back, and to help with school work; and they may need to pay for school supplies.

Whether you think this is worth it depends on if you think the value kids get from going to school exceeds the costs of fewer people having kids / the costs to parents. My understanding is that Zvi thinks the value of school to kids is negative, but if you disagree then it wouldn't be surprising if you disagree on this cost/benefit tradeoff.

Replies from: mikbp
comment by mikbp · 2023-04-07T16:59:56.438Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But it is obvious that if they don't go to school someone has to take care of them, and this is much more expensive. One cannot leave a kid alone at home (regardless if he is tasked to do chores or not) until (s)he is quite grown. That would be pretty crazy (and probably illegal). And having kids working on a family business or similar, it is costly as well: you cannot work half as well, they don't work well either or fast.

The fact that Zvi thinks the value of school to kids is negative is irrelevant here, as what I quoted strictly refers to economic cost (dramatically increasing it, he says, even if tuition is 0). It really looks to me like blatant overlooking of the economic costs of not bringing kids to school. But Zvi seems reasonable (and the tweet is not available), so I asked. 

One could argue that from, I don't know, 12 or 13y they could start doing something marginally productive (BTW, sorry, the legal age to start working is 16y, not 14y). This means a max of 4 years doing something productive before they can start legally working, and leaves at least 6 years having someone locked at home taking care of the kid (and hopefully trying to teach something to him), the productivity of whom would be anyway much higher than that of the kid. And note that the kid being able to start doing something productive does not exclude the adult having to be locked at home during that time.

Replies from: korin43
comment by Brendan Long (korin43) · 2023-04-08T01:54:40.498Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's a good point. At least in the modern world the childcare aspect of school is an economic benefit for parents. It's worth pointing out that raising younger children was one of the useful jobs older children have historically done.

I think this source answers your questions better than I've been able to:

The article is about historical child labor in the 1800's, and finds that children cost more than they produced, but they were able to do useful farm work past the age of 7.

He finds that children under 7 reduced the value of farm output, presumably because they reduced their mothers’ economic activities. For each child aged 7 to 12 the family’s output increased by about $16 per year – only 7 percent of the income produced by a typical adult male. Teen-aged females boosted family farm income by only about $22, while teen-aged males boosted income by $58.

It's unclear to me what the breakdown here is but children "age 15 and under" were a large portion of the manufacturing workforce.

In 1820 children aged 15 and under made up 23 percent of the manufacturing labor force of the industrializing Northeast. They were especially common in textiles, constituting 50 percent of the work force in cotton mills with 16 or more employees, as well as 41 percent of workers in wool mills, and 24 percent in paper mills.

Replies from: mikbp
comment by mikbp · 2023-04-08T07:38:05.114Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nobody is saying that not sending kids to school could be not-net-negative economically in some specific cases (eg. when someone is anyway at home not doing much, maybe in farms still nowadays?). Such cases represent a tiny minority of current population, at lest in Europe (and in all rich countries). And, even for these small percentage of cases, not being net negative economically is still far away from dramatically raising the economic cost of raising these kids (even if tuition is zero).

comment by Chuck Newsom (chuck-newsom) · 2023-01-28T14:34:15.934Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The graph of average GPA at Harvard vs. time is interesting. I thought back to being a 3rd-year Arts student in '78/79 at a public university in western Canada.

A very good prof told us that in the Department of Psychology (or perhaps the Faculty of Arts in general), the median mark was set as the demarcation between a C+ and a B (and thus, the median GPA would have been 2.75).

Per the graph, the average Harvard GPA at the time was c. 3.1. (The slope is steep at that point, so there's some +/- possible, and the median may have been different.)

Both average/median GPAs are higher than the formal grade definitions of my childhood. As I recall, they were:

A - Excellent 80 - 100% 4.0

B - Good 70 - 79% 3.0

C - Average 60 - 69% 2.0

D - Poor 50 - 59% 1.0

F - Fail 0 - 49% 0.0

All of this to say, by definition the average GPA should have been a C/65%.

It appears grade inflation has been a real thing for a long time.