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Q1) Live in the country and last three years longer than my city friends? Good news indeed, more backing for a lifestyle choice made half a lifetime ago when it seemed a good idea to exchange an Edinburgh terrace for a farm cottage. I knew it was a good idea because I had been there before. Born and reared on a farm I had been seduced for a few years by the idea of being a big shot who lived and worked in a city rather than only going for the day to wave at the buses. True, I was familiar with some of the minor disadvantages of country living such as an iffy private water supply sometimes infiltrated by a range of flora and fauna (including, on one memorable occasion, a dead lamb), the absence of central heating in farm houses and cottages, and a single-track farm road easily blocked by snow, broken-down machinery or escaped livestock. But there were many advantages as I told Liz back in the mid-Seventies. Town born and bred, eight months pregnant and exchanging a warm, substantial Corstorphine terrace for a windswept farm cottage on a much lower income, persuading her that country had it over town might have been difficult.

Q2) With an abundance of low-priced labor relative to the United States, it is no surprise that China, India and other developing countries specialize in the production of labor-intensive products. For similar reasons, the United States will specialize in the production of goods that are human- and physical-capital intensive because of the relative abundance of a highly-educated labor force and technically sophisticated equipment in the United States. This division of global production should yield higher global output of both types of goods than would be the case if each country attempted to produce both of these goods itself. For example, the United States would produce more expensive labor-intensive goods because of its more expensive labor and the developing countries would produce more expensive human and physical capital-intensive goods because of their relative scarcity of these inputs. This logic implies that the United States is unlikely to be a significant global competitor in the production green technologies that are not relatively intensive in human and physical capital. Nevertheless, during the early stages of the development of a new technology, the United States has a comparative advantage in the production of the products enabled by this innovation. However, once these technologies become well-understood and production processes are designed that can make use of less-skilled labor, production will migrate to countries with less expensive labor.

Q3) Parents’ own birth order can become an issue when dynamics in the family they are raising replicate the family in which they were raised. Agati notes common examples, such as a firstborn parent getting into “raging battles” with a firstborn child. “Both are used to getting the last word. Each has to be right. But the parent has to be the grown-up and step out of that battle,” he advises. When youngest children become parents, Agati cautions that because they “may not have had high expectations placed on them, they in turn may not see their kids for their abilities.“ But he also notes that since youngest children tend to be more social, “youngest parents can be helpful to their firstborn, who may have a harder time with social situations. These parents can help their eldest kids loosen up and not be so hard on themselves. Mom Susan Ritz says her own birth order didn’t seem to affect her parenting until the youngest of her three children, Julie, was born. Julie was nine years younger than Ritz’s oldest, Joshua, mirroring the age difference between Susan and her own older brother. “I would see Joshua do to Julie what my brother did to me,” she says of the taunting and teasing by a much older sibling. “I had to try not to always take Julie’s side.” Biases can surface no matter what your own birth position was, as Lori Silverstone points out. “As a middle myself, I can be harder on my older daughter. I recall my older sister hitting me,” she says of her reactions to her daughters’ tussles. “My husband is a firstborn. He’s always sticking up for the oldest. He feels bad for her that the others came so fast. He helps me to see what that feels like, to have that attention and then lose it.” Silverstone sees birth-order triggers as “an opportunity to heal parts of ourselves. I’ve learned to teach my middle daughter to stand up for herself.  My mother didn’t teach me that. I’m conscious of giving my middle daughter tools so she has a nice way to protect herself.” Whether or not you subscribe to theories that birth order can affect your child’s personality, ultimately, “we all have free will,” Agati notes. It’s important for both parents and kids to realize that, despite the characteristics often associated with birth order, “you’re not locked into any role.”

Q4) A large new study has found that people who regularly took a siesta were significantly less likely to die of heart disease. “Taking a nap could turn out to be an important weapon in the fight against coronary mortality,” said Dimitrios Trichopoulos of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, who led the study published yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The study of more than 23,000 Greek adults — the biggest and best examination of the subject to date — found that those who regularly took a midday siesta were more than 30 percent less likely to die of heart disease. Other experts said the results are intriguing. Heart disease kills more than 650,000 Americans each year, making it the nation’s No. 1 cause of death. “It’s interesting. A little siesta, a little snooze may be beneficial,” said Gerald Fletcher, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., speaking on behalf of the American Heart Association. “It’s simple, but it has a lot of promise.“ While more research is needed to confirm and explore the findings, there are several ways napping could reduce the risk of heart attacks, experts said. “Napping may help deal with the stress of daily living,” said Michael Twery, who directs the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s National Center on Sleep Disorders Research.”Another possibility is that it is part of the normal biological rhythm of daily living. The biological clock that drives sleep and wakefulness has two cycles each day, and one of them dips usually in the early afternoon. It’s possible that not engaging in napping for some people might disrupt these processes.“ Researchers have long known that countries such as Greece, Italy and Spain, where people commonly take siestas, have lower rates of heart disease than would be expected. But previous studies that attempted to study the relationship between naps and heart disease have produced mixed results. The new study is first to try to fully account for factors that might confuse the findings, such as physical activity, diet and other illnesses.

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