Bryan Caplan  

Podcasting: A New Experience

The Anti-Hack... Alternative Minimum Tax Puzzle...

I did the first podcast of my career on Friday - a chat with Russ Roberts about discrimination... which somehow morphed into my spiel about the relative wretchedness of the European standard of living.

Overall, I had a swell time, and I'd do it again. Thanks for having me, Russ!

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COMMENTS (7 to date)
RWP writes:

I cannot believe how fast you talk, Dr. Caplan. I don't think I would do so well listening in your class.

David N. Welton writes:

I live in Italy, and while some things here are 'wretched', I'd say it's the corruption that causes it, not the lack of economic freedom. Of course, that does hurt in some places, but on the other hand, there are a lot of other things that are much nicer about life here. Good food, good wine, beautiful architecture, and gorgeous women (obesity is much less prevalent than in the US).

Much as I wouldn't want to jump on the Walmart bashing bandwagon... there really is something soulless and depressing about that kind of architecture (of course, it isn't specific to walmart, but is quite prevalent in the US).

Point being that life is complicated, and while I admire and mostly agree with your defense of and belief in free markets, I think sometimes you have to step back and think that perhaps things interlock in ways that go beyond that in terms of a whole society...

Jason Briggeman writes:

Prof. Caplan provides his students with thorough typewritten outlines of his lectures (these are also available at his website), and he almost always (without prompting!) says key points twice (i.e., he repeats them once after making them). So it is less difficult to keep up with him than one might think.

eric writes:

The GDP/capita is lower, but have you considered the crime rate? Much lower in Europe, which increases the quality of life.

Dain writes:

Apparently the crime rates are about comparable between the EU and the US, but murder - the most imporant one - is definitely worse here. And that doesn't even account for the more threatening atmosphere one gets in the US. Short of actual violence, there is more tension "in the air". Though I suppose some might say it's rather exciting and dynamic, as opposed to the more drab day-to-day social interactions of the Danish. (I've been there.)

The San Francisco Bay area is in many ways a microcosm of the world, whereas metropolitan Copenhagen is a microcosm of, well, the world's urban Danes.

Alcibiades writes:

Russ sounded nerdier than you! Certainly more nasal, anyway. Unexpected!

Bruce G Charlton writes:

Enjoyed the podcast.

Technical point about studies looking for discrimination. I feel that there are limitations to controlling for confounding by doing multiple regression analysis and looking out for a 'unexplained' residual - then saying such a residual implies that much discrimination. Because of the assumptions of this statistical technique - I feel it should be supported by a stratified analysis, which examines the variables in terms of individual strata.

Another point: racism is not the same as sexism. The basis of economic criticisms of racism is that racial aspects do not really significanty affect psychology (although cultural and ethnic factors clearly do - eg. the widely different productivity of workers in different countries).

But men and women really _are_ biologically different (this should not need pointing out, really), in many ways, some psychological. So it is wrong to expect there to be zero difference in terms of salaries, hiring and promoting men and women - and calling it sexism when a difference is found or when there is a residual of unexplained variance after controlling for confounding.

For example, where men and women's wages or promotions differ, and control for confounding does not remove all this difference, then it needs to be considered that there are (on average, and at extremes) many psychological differences between men and women which may potentially explain different wages.

(There is also often the problem of residual confounding, since insufficient controls may be included, perhaps due to ignorance - residual confounding is implied when each extra control added tends to reduce the residual 'unexplained' variance - because this may imply that _full_control of confounding, if it were known and possible, would eliminate all of the unexplained residual variance. So - if the 'gender gap' in men and women's wages reduces every time you add a control for qualifications, years of service, hours worked per week, travel for work etc. then it may imply that full control would reduce the 'gap' to zero)

To expect zero difference between men and women in a study would require that there be extra controls for psychological factors as well - what might be termed temperament. Only if men and women who have the same temperament (as well as qualifications etc) were paid differently for the same work would it be reasonable to start talking about sexism.

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