The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced many people to the reality of constant decision-making: every action carries some amount of risk, and so must be weighed carefully. When it comes to parenting, that risk is multiplied. Shutting down schools was an appropriate and necessary step as soon as contagious disease reared its head, but the resulting need for child care has also caused a chain reaction in our society that has put women, in particular, out of work, and created untenable conditions for single working parents. Now, based on the current science, could it make sense to open up schools before some other areas of society open back up? How can this be done safely, and how do we cope with living with that amount of risk?
Emily Oster, PhD is a Professor of Economics at Brown University. She holds a PhD in Economics from Harvard. Dr. Oster’s academic work focuses on health economics and statistical methods. She is interested in understanding why consumers do not always make “rational” health choices — why do people not eat a fully healthy diet, or pursue all recommended preventative health behaviors? In addition to her academic work, Dr. Oster has written two books. Expecting Better analyzes the data behind many common pregnancy rules, and aims to improve decision-making for pregnant women. Cribsheet does the same for early childhood — what does the evidence really say on breastfeeding, co-sleeping or potty training.
Next week, February 9th, at 2 pm Eastern, we will speaking with Michael Shermer, PhD, founder of The Skeptics Society and editor-in-chief of its magazine Skeptic, contributor for Scientific American’s Skeptic column, and a scientific advisor to the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH).