Via Planet Money:
Gans, who wrote a book called Parentonomics, tried to create a toilet-training economy for his young children. He rewarded them with candy for sitting on the toilet — and the older ones got candy if they helped the younger ones.
But, like tiny Wall-Street bankers, the kids figured out how to work the system for maximum advantage.
His daughter managed to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes, all day long. For a while, she got a treat every time.
She also wrung everything she could out of her brother:
I realized that if I helped my brother go to the toilet, I would get rewarded, too. And I realized that the more that goes in, the more comes out. So I was just feeding my brother buckets and buckets of water.
In a follow up he talked about using a 100% candy tax to reduce his daughter’s consumption of sweets, and the result that ensued:
Of course, we are now two years down the track with a more independent child. The issue with independence is that allows for another thing that often accompanies attempts to collect a tax: under-reporting. It did not take us too long to discover that the allowance was being used to purchase candy and my daughter owed a ton of back taxes.
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