Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

July 2006

A Monthly Archive (56 entries)

The Joy of Oblivion

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Will Wilkinson has a great demolition of the New Economics Foundations' Happy Planet Index. The magic formula: "Multiply life expectancy by life satisfaction and divide it by environmental impact." Here's Will: I worry that much of the happiness work is... MORE

When Is Entry "Easy"?

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Is it "easy" to enter the market for tomatoes? In a sense, yes: Just plant some tomato seeds, pick the ones that grow, and you're "in the market." But in another sense, no: You'd have to grow a lot of... MORE

Doha Collapse

International Trade
Arnold Kling
Clive Crook writes (link expires next month), Liberal trade works exactly like a resource-saving technology. So, it makes exactly as much sense for a country to deny itself the advantages of open borders to trade as it would to deny... MORE

healthier humans

Growth: Consequences
Arnold Kling
Gina Kolata writes in the New York Times, The biggest surprise emerging from the new studies is that many chronic ailments like heart disease, lung disease and arthritis are occurring an average of 10 to 25 years later than they... MORE

True Love and the International Marriage Market

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Tyler asks his readers to help a 51-year-old American male find a high-quality wife in the international marriage market: What traits should he look for in a foreign woman? He should avoid countries which lost the Cold War. Avoid women... MORE

An Army of Consumers

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
The Economist discusses the work of one of my favorite economists, Amar Bhide. But nowadays innovation—a complex, gradual process, often involving many firms making incremental advances over many years—is not much constrained by national borders, argues Mr Bhidé. Indeed, the... MORE

The Los Angeles Liquor Puzzle

Regulation and Subsidies
Bryan Caplan
There's a lot less economic freedom in my state of origin, California, than in my state of residence, Virginia. According to the Pacific Research Institute's rankings, the state of California comes in 49 out of 50th. Virginia comes in 3rd.... MORE

Lazy Thinking

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee writes, Randomized trials like these—that is, trials in which the intervention is assigned randomly—are the simplest and best way of assessing the impact of a program. They mimic the procedures used in trials of new drugs, which... MORE

The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
Robert Carroll and Greg Mankiw discuss the Treasury department's analysis of the long-run (supply-side) effects of the Bush tax cuts. The Treasury's main analysis assumes that lower tax revenue will over time be accompanied by reduced spending on government consumption.... MORE

From Comic-Con to Econ

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Last week, when Econlog readers had the good luck to get Eric Crampton as a guest blogger, I had the good luck to find myself at Comic-Con, the world's largest comic book convention. I must not be quite the nerd... MORE

Sayonara

Econlog Administrative Issues
Eric Crampton
It looks like Bryan's about set to make his return, so I'll be signing off. Thanks, Bryan, for giving me a soapbox, and thanks to the participants in the discussions in the comments. It's been a lot of fun. I'm... MORE

China--authoritarian capitalism?

Institutional Economics
Arnold Kling
Robert Reich writes The gap between China’s rich and poor is turning into a chasm. China’s innovators, investors, and captains of industry are richly rewarded. They live in luxury housing developments whose streets are lined with McMansions. The feed in... MORE

Willpower as a Scarce Resource

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
Emre Ozdenoren, Stephen Salant, and Dan Silverman write, an agent in our model would strictly prefer to have his “cake” or paycheck doled out to him by a savings club. For if the entire amount were available, resisting spending it... MORE

Economics and charity runs

Economics and Culture
Eric Crampton
Dan Bakkedahl, Daily Show Correspondent, reports on Paul, a fellow in Boston who's frequently inconvenienced by the "Walkanazis"(follow the link to the "Look who's walking, too" video): the perpetual stream of charity runs and walks that stop him from taking... MORE

A Cantabrian Commerce Centenary

Austrian Economics
Eric Crampton
I ought to shill once for my home institution while guest blogging for Bryan. 2006 marks the Centenary of the Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Canterbury; our centennial celebrations take place in October. Other fun Canterbury facts: Karl... MORE

Second Best and Socialist Calculation

Austrian Economics
Eric Crampton
The socialist calculation debate of the 1920s and 1930s centred on whether a benevolent social planner could allocate resources in a planned economy to replicate the efficiencies of the market while remedying the ills of monopoly losses and profit-taking. Ludwig... MORE

MRV watch

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Ilya Somin writes Recent research suggests that even the most sophisticated and highly rational voters may rely on shortcuts that have little relevance to political candidates’ likely performance in office. For example, a recent study of elections for the presidency... MORE

Ethnic Strife

Institutional Economics
Arnold Kling
In a timely article, Austan Goolsbee writes The good news is that history suggests that the destruction of war has no lasting impact on economic prospects. The bad news is that most of these countries, especially Iraq, are filled with... MORE

Public Choice Television

Public Choice Theory
Eric Crampton
Deadwood is the best television series I've seen. I'm a big fan of Joss Whedon's work, but this surpasses it. Read Mancur Olson on stationary and roving bandits, then read some Tullock, then watch the show. Al Swearengen, who owns... MORE

Tragedy of the Commons

Economic History
Eric Crampton
While I was at GMU, Gordon Tullock was working on a book he intended to call "Open Secrets" -- things that most people don't know but ought to. Levy and Peart's re-discovery of the origins of the term Dismal Science... MORE

Kiwispeak

Cross-country Comparisons
Eric Crampton
Jacqueline asks in the comments about restrictions on political speech in New Zealand. First, nobody's restricted against using the term argy-bargy. In fact, it's used rather frequently. I heard it on the radio this morning driving into work. Strange place.... MORE

Health, Education, and Causality

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen recommends a paper by David M. Cutler and Adriana Leras-Mooney on the effect of education on health. The obvious economic explanations – education is related to income or occupational choice – explain only a part of the education... MORE

Offsetting behaviour

Regulation and Subsidies
Eric Crampton
Russ Sobel warns us that NASCAR safety regulations cause more accidents. It seems that the racing industry is starting to take notice: NASCAR has made significant safety strides since the death of Dale Earnhardt, and many drivers credit recent innovations... MORE

Healthy Transcript

Economics of Health Care
Arnold Kling
From my talk a couple months ago on the Massachusetts health care plan. As I said afterwards, I was unusually fluid in this presentation. My talk begins on p. 28 of the transcript. An excerpt: If you were to deregulate... MORE

Physician, consult an economist.

Economics of Health Care
Eric Crampton
A recent paper in Social Science & Medicine makes me wonder whether editorial boards of health journals ever bother including economists as referees. In Shifting dollars, saving lives (working paper version for those without subscriptions), Kiwi public health profs Blakely... MORE

Thoughts on the Super-Rich

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Brad DeLong writes If it is luck or talent, the 60% of me that is a social democrat thinks that this is grossly unfair, and that we should think very seriously about powerful public policies that will level the distribution... MORE

Returns to Beauty

Human Capital: Returns to entrepreneurs, skills, etc.
Eric Crampton
Giam Petro Cipriano and Angelo Zago find that more attractive students in economics earn higher test scores than their less attractive counterparts, an effect that's magnified rather than attenuated in written exams when compared to oral exams. While a causal... MORE

Further Kiwiana

Cross-country Comparisons
Eric Crampton
Patri Friedman asks in the comments for info on the desirability of New Zealand for libertarian expatting; C.L asks about the cost of living. I’ll see what I can do on both fronts, beneath the fold.... MORE

Indicator of Failure in Iraq

Institutional Economics
Arnold Kling
Strategy Page writes The corruption is so bad that American officials find their Iraqi counterparts more concerned with stealing than governing. The theft is so pervasive that an honest official (who doesn't steal) is at a political disadvantage. During Saddam's... MORE

Prediction Markets?

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Eric Crampton
I'm a fan of Hanson's idea markets. Imitation as flattery: I put together a Marsden grant proposal (New Zealand's NSF) to start up election stock markets here that would subsequently be expanded into policy and decision markets. Unfortunately, the grant... MORE

Ideology and the Classroom

Economic Education
Eric Crampton
Oppenheimer writes in favour of opinionated teaching. Kelly-Woessner and Woessner find that this may not be the best route to strong teaching evaluations. Both perceived ideological and partisan differences between student and instructor reduce course evaluation scores, with partisan differences... MORE

French Labour Markets

Labor Market
Eric Crampton
Tyler provides further evidence that there are serious problems in French labour markets... A clerk will spend half an hour "helping" a customer. I wait and wait. (It is worse than the Falls Church Public Library.) I do not understand... MORE

The Kotlikoff Budget Plan

Fiscal Policy
Arnold Kling
Laurence J. Kotlikoff writes, the U.S. government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments... MORE

My Student's Real Economist Letter

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
My former student, Isaac DiIanni, wrote the lead letter in the current issue of the Economist. Congratulations, Isaac - yet another way my students have surpassed me. :-)... MORE

Kiwiana

Cross-country Comparisons
Eric Crampton
I'm quite happy to fill in for Bryan while he's holidaying in California. I finished up at GMU about three years ago before taking a job at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Bryan's given me a bit... MORE

Segregation Equilibrium

Economics of Education
Arnold Kling
From a summary of a study by Donald Haurin and David Brasington: The study of Ohio school districts showed that an increase of about 20 percentage points in the proficiency test “pass rate” increased house values in a district about... MORE

Welcome Guest Blogger Eric Crampton

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
I'll be on vacation in Southern California for the next two weeks, and out of internet contact for most of the first. But never fear, the excellent Prof. Eric Crampton of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand will be... MORE

Tyler is once again handing out career advice to potential Ph.D. students in economics. I stand by my previous claim (here and here) that he makes some good points, but is far too negative. Where does Tyler go wrong? His... MORE

Intelligence and Economic Beliefs

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
One of the clearest facts about economic beliefs is that more educated people think more like economists. A lot of economists say their experience in academia completely contradicts this, but (a) the highly-educated folks who hang around universities are heavily... MORE

Socialist Hate Speech of Antiquity

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Toward the end of the fifth century c.e., another religious reform movement was launched by Mazdak. It came in 497... Mazdak asked King Kobad (488-531) the question, "How do you judge a man who has the antidote but does not... MORE

All Things Caplan

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
I have updated my CV and my Academic Economics page. With the exception of my book (for which only the Preface and Chapter 1 are available), you can now download virtually any research I've done during the past nine years.... MORE

Online Textbooks

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
Walter Antoniotti has compiled a big list of free online textbooks in economics, business, statistics, etc. I glanced at one of the economics sites, Cybereconomics by Robert E. Schenk, and it looked quite good. I also liked the Quick Notes... MORE

Why Get an Econ Ph.D?

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, Two core groups of people are well-suited to be economists: 1. You math GRE score is over 800, you are totally focused, you love working long hours on your own, and you have good enough letters of... MORE

My Fake Economist Article

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
As you probably know, I am an openly nerdy man. These days, my nerdiest activity is being the Game Master for a bunch of economists who pretend to be super-heroes. No joke! We use my modified version of the Hero... MORE

A Nice Statement of My Position on IP

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Some economists would argue that any contracts voluntarily entered into should be enforced. That is what lead them to argue that, if I agree not to redistribute your book, then I should be bound by that agreement. In this view,... MORE

The Anti-IP Crusaders

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Arnold Kling
Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine write, Intellectual property law is not about your right to control your copy of your idea - this is a right that we have just pointed out, does not need a great deal of... MORE

What Should Classical Liberals Do?

Political Economy
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, 1. The welfare state is not going away. But it is imperative that we avoid Western European levels of taxation through the explosion of Medicare liabilities... 2. What recipes lead to both strong markets and decent governance?...... MORE

What Does Your Ideology Say About You?

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Speaking at the Public Choice Outreach seminar this afternoon, Robin Hanson repeated an hypothesis he's been entertaining for a while: Liberals are trying to show that they are caring; conservatives are trying to show that they are tough. Perhaps, but... MORE

Self-Control and Civilization

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I'm not surprised that Brad DeLong shares my love of the great computer game Civilization: I'm tempted to jump in and head-butt the libertarian: If you were to ask a compulsive gambler if he really wanted to waste his life,... MORE

What We Owe Immigrants

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
When I re-wrote a scene from The Edukators, I was expecting some opponent of immigration to try to use it against me. Dennis Mangan has taken the bait: Toward the end, we get this: Jan: Now you're changing the subject.... MORE

The Gender Gap of Economics: Knowledge vs. Interest

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I just submitted my latest paper, "The Gender Gap of Economics: Why Do Men Think More Like Economists?" to Social Science Quarterly. Unfortunately, in order to get under SSQ's 30-page limit, I had to cut my favorite figure. Here it... MORE

The Lamentable Teddy Roosevelt

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Time has put Teddy Roosevelt on the cover of its 5th Annual Special Issue, and the coverage stretches the limits of sycophancy. It reminds me of my high school history textbook, which praised any President who backed new regulations or... MORE

Political Irrationality and the Brain

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I think that brain research is overrated. A lot of it does little more than confirm the obvious points that (a) unusual people have unusual brains; (b) people doing unusual things have unusual brain states. If nuns had unusual brains,... MORE

Trust Cues Understood

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Christopher Chantrill clearly gets my concept of trust cues. [Nicholas] Wade tells his readers other disturbing facts. Genetic analysis strongly suggests that all men are descended from a single male, and all women from a single female. On top of... MORE

Confirming Arnold's and Bryan's Biases

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Arnold Kling
Michael Shermer writes, During the run-up to the 2004 presidential election, while undergoing an fMRI bran scan, 30 men--half self-described as "strong" Republicans and half as "strong" Democrats--were tasked with assessing statements by both George W. Bush and John Kerry... MORE

The Edukators

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
No, this isn't another post on simplified spelling. The Edukators is a German movie about anti-capitalism protestors who break into rich people's houses, re-arrange their furniture in the spirit of Dadaism, and leave a note saying "You have too much... MORE

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