Why so many helicopter parents? asks Megan McArdle on Bloomberg View.
The world isn’t more dangerous than it used to be), she writes. “I grew up in a New York City where kids had a lot more freedom — and a lot more crime to contend with, a lot more pollution, and a lot less safety gear.”
What’s different is that “we got richer, and richer people can expend more effort protecting their kids,” writes McArdle. But does this explain the “radical transformation” in parenting?
Parents are spending more time with their children — and working longer hours — than in the recent past. “Intensive parenting” is most common” among those who could afford to hire others to supervise their kids.
What matters is the way we got richer, she argues. Fewer well-to-do- people have family businesses to pass on. Instead, the upper middle class is made up primarily of the “extensively educated.”
An MBA . . . is not heritable. Neither is a law degree, a medical degree, or any of the other educational credentials that form the barriers to entry into today’s upper middle class. Those have to be earned by the child, from strangers — and with inequality rising, the competition for those credentials just keeps getting fiercer.
Professional-class parents can pass down their “ability to navigate the educational system that produces the credentials,” she writes. So they hover.