Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

April 2005

A Monthly Archive (41 entries)

Rock on, Alex

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
Alex Tabarrok make a real splash on Lawrence Kudlow today. And while most of the talk centered on Social Security reform, there was an exhilirating digression on oil economics.... MORE

Education and the Economic Way of Thinking: Another Test Case

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
More educated people think more like economists. It's one of the big findings in my piece in the 2001 Journal of Law and Economics. And that's controlling for income, income growth, job security, gender, ideology, and party. It's a big... MORE

European Demographics

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Another Milken Institute Review article is on aging Europe. I am pretty familiar with the low birth rate and its implications for the size and age distribution of Europe's population. However, this was news to me: few Americans seem aware... MORE

Immigrant Progress

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
The latest Milken Institute Review has a number of interesting articles. For example, a report on the income status of second-generation immigrants. According to a new Census survey, the 30 million second-generation Americans seem well on their way to achieving... MORE

Acemoglu, Clark Medal winner

Institutional Economics
Arnold Kling
Daron Acemoglu, the latest winner of the Clark Medal, is one more data point in the trend line away from mathematical viruosity and toward the The New Economic Paradigm. Consider, for example, his Lionel Robbins lectures on Understanding Institutions. Institutions,... MORE

Why Most Economists Are Hawks and Why They Might Be Wrong

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've never seen a survey, but casual empiricism makes me think that economists are hawks. Arnold Kling calls himself a Jacksonian - "the patriotic fighters for whom the worst sin is not going to war, it's losing one." But even... MORE

Jane Jacobs, Austrian?

Austrian Economics
Arnold Kling
I just finished reading The Economy of Cities, a book written in 1969 by Jane Jacobs. An excerpt from her conclusion: The primary economic conflict, I think, is between people whose interests are with already well-established economic activities, and those... MORE

Libertarianism at Harvard

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Jeff Miron, another Bernie-Saffran-influenced economist, is teaching a course on libertarianism at Harvard. The lecture notes are available in pdf format. One of the papers on the reading list for the course, is an article by Miron questioning the case... MORE

Freedom to Cell

Regulation and Subsidies
Bryan Caplan
Only a small man would pick on the Oakton Sun Gazette, but I can't resist. Friday's editorial attacks proposals to legalize cell phone use on planes: This idea – nincompoopery at its finest – needs to be smothered in its... MORE

Tabarrok Should Bask in His Victimhood

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
A new study finds that academia discriminates against right-wingers. Alex Tabarrok wishes it were true, but isn't buying it: I must admit that for a moment I enjoyed basking in my own victim hood. My failings are not my own... MORE

Knowledge Problem

Business Economics
Arnold Kling
Lots of good stuff recently at Knowledge Problem. Lynne tells us what to think of the new energy legislation. If you support a forward-looking, dynamic, creative, innovative approach to energy, this is not the legislation for you. If you are... MORE

34 Postcards About Terrorism

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
What's the deal with terrorism? The Department of Homeland Security summarizes the views of 34 different teams of social scientists here. Recommendations range widely. The authors advocate everything from encouraging empathy to making it harder for terrorists to provide social... MORE

Vernon Smith on Globalization

International Trade
Arnold Kling
In a wide-ranging lecture, Vernon Smith says, No one has said it better than David Hume over 250 years ago, when he said that there are just three laws of human nature: 1) the right of possession, 2) its transference... MORE

The Missing Martyrs

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
My colleague Lawrence Iannaccone is the world's leading researcher on the economics of religion. His work fascinates me, but at the end of the day, I wonder how much of it is true. One juicy tidbit: In "The Market for... MORE

Costs, Benefits, and Health Care

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
I do the arithmetic. Suppose that a medical test costs $1000, and 98 percent of the time it fails to turn up anything that would affect treatment. The other 2 percent of the time, it results in a treatment choice... MORE

Macro Econoblog

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
I was asked to do a WSJ Econoblog on the state of the economy. I do not have strongly-held views on macroeconomics, so there was not much disagreement between me and my "opponent," John Irons. Guess which one of us... MORE

Do Facts Matter?

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
In the recent Larry Summers flap, his chief antagonist was Nancy Hopkins, an MIT biologist. A reader forwarded me a link to a paper by Patricia Hausman and James H. Steiger on an earlier Hopkins controversy. the 1999 publication of... MORE

Tetlock and Taboo

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Philip Tetlock may well be my favorite political psychologist. He has a fantastic article surveying his research on political taboos in Elements of Reason, edited by Lupia, McCubbins, and Popkin. Tetlock asks: Are taboo trade-offs "taboo" in the primal Polynesian... MORE

Economists on Social Security

Social Security
Arnold Kling
The latest issue of Economists' Voice is devoted to Social Security. Note the dates on the articles--some of them are not new. Barbara Bergmann writes, What raising Social Security taxes in advance of higher spending on benefits does is to... MORE

Don't Believe Behaviorism's Dead? I Say!

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
One of the many paradoxes of behaviorism is that the only way you can tell that Arnold Kling and I disagree about it is from our words. Observe our behavior for a hundred years; you'll never figure out where we... MORE

Just Resting

Economic Philosophy
Arnold Kling
Economic behaviorism isn't dead. It's just resting. Or pining for the fjords. Seriously, I think that behaviorism is a reaction against two propositions. One is that we need to examine whether people really optimize. The other is that we need... MORE

International Health Care Comparisons

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In my latest essay, I write, One way to sort this out would be to conduct a statistically valid comparison of fetal survival rates across countries. In each country to be studied, take a random sample of pregnancies that are... MORE

Behaviorism in Economics: A Funeral

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
One reaction to my recent piece in Econ Journal Watch is "economics isn't about what people say or believe; it's about what people DO." The easy response is: Not anymore, it isn't! Survey research has exploded in economics. So has... MORE

Nuclear Power Regulation

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
Randall Parker recently sent an email to a few economics bloggers about nuclear power plant regulation. In particular, he asked whether we think that the Price-Anderson Act, which limits the liability of nuclear power plants for accidents, represents an excess... MORE

A Dagger in the Heart of America

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
As late as 1999, it was our single largest foreign supplier of oil. But then a hostile regime took over, struck up close friendships with our bitter enemies, and started strangling our economy. By 2003, it had cut its exports... MORE

Health Insurance Puzzle

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In my latest essay, I write, Ask an economist what is the best type of health insurance, and he or she is likely to respond "catastrophic coverage." ...In practice, we observe very little catastrophic coverage. Instead, the most widespread form... MORE

Health Care and Real Wages

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Terry Lierman, the Chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, forwarded me a link to an article in the Los Angeles Times about declining real wages. With benefits factored in, workers' total compensation did outpace inflation in 2004, even if they... MORE

Voters As Mad Scientists

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Voters aren't selfish. That's an important question where the political scientists are right and the economists are wrong. But I part company with the political scientists when they draw implications about how well democracy works. After they shoot down the... MORE

More on the Reformation

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Steven Roy Goodman writes, Colleges have long been hotbeds of political agitation, of course. But where it was once students who did the acting out, as they spread their intellectual and philosophical wings, now the professors and administrators are more... MORE

A Little Evidence I'm Wrong About Voter Motivation

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I disbelieve what I call the Self-Interested Voter Hypothesis (SIVH for short). Political scientists like David Sears have amassed a mountain of empirical evidence against the SIVH, and the evidence on the other side (mostly economists, I'm afraid) is awfully... MORE

The Blogging Meme

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
The term "blog" was coined in 1999, and it now gets 105,000,000 google hits. Compare that to "democracy," which only gets 43,800,000. Wikipedia provides a fascinating and thorough discussion.... MORE

Academic Self-selection

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
Andrew Samwick writes, An elite university is like a kibbutz hooked up to an ATM. It is the closest thing we may ever find to a socialist enterprise that endures. The key element of the kibbutz--that the workers collectively decide... MORE

Health Insurance Administrative Costs

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I suggest how health insurance administrative costs could be reduced. A management consultant would recommend eliminating unnecessary interfaces. For example, you could eliminate state regulators and employers from the insurance process. Having 51 different sets of state... MORE

Gas Price Conspiracy?

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
The Cincinnati Enquirer writes, How can prices climb so much, seemingly overnight, when the gasoline in the tank beneath the station was bought by the retailer a day or two before and was probably refined from crude oil weeks or... MORE

Normality Signaling: A Test Case

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
My student Howard Wu passed along an interesting anecdote on signaling that you're normal. True story: In my company once we received a resume sent along with a dress shoe. And the cover letter says: "now that I have a... MORE

Blue Laws

Regulation and Subsidies
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post reports, Maryland lawmakers yesterday approved legislation that would effectively require Wal-Mart to boost spending on health care... Lawmakers said they did not set out to single out Wal-Mart when they drafted a bill requiring organizations with more... MORE

The Energy Outlook

Energy, Environment, Resources
Arnold Kling
I presume that Alan Greenspan is a relatively well-informed observer. Clearly, limited substitution possibilities across fuels have resulted in persistent cost differentials, but those very differentials inspire the technologies that, over time, reduce such limitations. A clear example is gas-to-liquids... MORE

FDA: Public, Economists, and Specialists

Regulation and Subsidies
Bryan Caplan
I've come across two interesting surveys on the Food and Drug Administration. The first is the latest gem by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Among other topics, it has the dirt on public opinion about regulation of drugs. Does the public... MORE

Social Security

Social Security
Arnold Kling
In this essay, I write Imagine that Social Security had been structured to phase out, so that only those workers now over the age of 30 are required to be in the system. Under this assumed scenario, workers under age... MORE

Best... Compliment... Ever

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
If you're thinking of becoming an academic, be warned: You aren't going to get a lot of positive reinforcement. Most of the time you will simply be ignored. Almost all of the remaining feedback is negative. (Stop by my office,... MORE

The Joy of Market-Clearing Wages

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
When people compare the U.S. and Europe, they often conclude that the U.S. is richer and more economically efficient, but that Europe is happier because they don't measure everything in dollars and cents (or even Marks and Pfennings). One of... MORE

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