Monday, September 07, 2009

How Do I Become A Relevant Grandpa?

Bryan Caplan reminds us of Becker's great work on the family, and in particular why some societies respect the advice of their elders more than others. In short, more developed and market-oriented economies are more dynamic, which by consequence reduces the value of previous life experience. If a friend slights you on Facebook, do you ask your Grandma how to handle it? Probably not, because she does not hold knowledge relevant to dealing with the complex culture of online social networking cites.

Let us now employ rational expectations. Knowing that today's life experiences will hold little in common with future generations, what type of knowledge should I cultivate today to remain relevant in my waning years? My thoughts (Hat Tip: Suzie Witmer and Ryan Graf for discussion):
  • Cultivate culinary knowledge: A lifetime of experiencing different tastes and flavors should become more valuable as cross-culture exposure increases.
  • Travel: Experience places and cultures. Even though the traits of these places will change, your ability to contrast it with other places or to speak on its history in a first-person sense will remain interesting. Wouldn't you like to talk to someone who visited Taiwan in the early 1950's?
  • Spend a lot of time with your children, aka the future parents of your grandchildren. The better you understand the caveats of your grandchildrens' future parent, the more valuable a resource you will be for them.
Feel free to add other you may think of, and no, I don't think our romance or love advice will be very useful in two generations, other than perhaps helping them dodge some buyer's remorse.

*Side question: How is Caplan managing to get any reading done these days?

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