Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: September 2010

An Author Archive by Month (44 entries)

Two Replies to Two Things

IQ in Economics
Bryan Caplan
In the comments, Two Things writes:1. If your book about poverty doesn't discuss IQ then it will be worthless, or nearly so. 2. If your book blames poverty in underdeveloped countries on the immigration policies of developed countries then it... MORE

My Plans

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Now that I've finished writing Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, people keep asking me about my future research plans.  My first order of business is to finish up the political responsibility project I've been working on with Ilya Somin,... MORE

Tolerance Will Keep Rising: I'll Bet on It!

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
In a thoughtful and provocative post, Tyler tells us:Tolerance of gay individuals and alternative lifestyles is at a historic high.  I would not endorse a crude "regression toward the mean" hypothesis, but we should at least try it on for... MORE

On the Clock

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The excellent Fabio Rojas offers bluntly excellent advice for grad students in the latest Inside Higher Ed.  He begins by distinguishing "short-clock" from "long-clock" disciplines:Some disciplines kick people out in four to six years. I call these "short clock." Engineering,... MORE

Who Said It?

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Eventually, however, the war spread to the very issue of whether unemployment in recessions in involuntary...  Sweetwater economists began to respond to the natural gravitational pull of the assumptions of optimization and well-functioning markets, which tend to rule out the... MORE

Rational Religious Ignorance?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
People aren't just rationally ignorant about politics and economics; they also seem to be rationally ignorant about religion.  The latest Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life poll weighed, measured, and found wanting the religious knowledge of over 3000 adult... MORE

Signaling that I'm Not Signaling About Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
During our last few lunches, Robin has challenged me to clarify my position on educational signaling - and help my critics to do the same.  And more recently, he named "You have little interest in getting clear on what exactly... MORE

Rebranding Additive Shocks

Macroeconomics
Bryan Caplan
A year ago, I wrote a little-known post called "Additive Shocks."  A week ago, Sumner made my point with more panache:...I don't know about you, but I don't recall reading; "Severe AD shocks are really, really bad, except when the... MORE

EconZen

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
If no one practiced statistical discrimination, no one would have any reason to engage in signaling.... MORE

When Are We the Bad Guys?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
In response to "Terrible Turnaround," Scott Sumner writes:Suppose that in 1943 we knew for a fact that dropping a bomb on Germany and Japan, and killing 3,000 civilians, would have caused them to surrender.  Would the act have been morally... MORE

Educational Signaling and Statistical Discrimination

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The tacit assumption of signaling models of education is that employers engage in statistical discrimination.  Instead of looking into each applicant's soul and finding his true marginal productivity, employers rely heavily on more-or-less accurate stereotypes about "high school drop-outs," "English... MORE

The view that the U.S. government actually increases income inequality used to be limited to (some) libertarians and socialists.  After the bailouts of 2008 and beyond, though, even moderates might start to wonder.  Where does the truth lie?  Please show... MORE

Sole and Absolute Discretion

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
I've signed some bizarre contracts in my day.  When I bought my house, for example, the terms "sole and absolute discretion" frequently appeared in the builder's contract.  Taken literally, my contract basically said, "I give you a pile of money,... MORE

Rod Replies

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Rod Long replies to my "Why I Am Not a Left-Libertarian":Bryan's response focuses on the ways in which free markets would solve the problems I point to if they were really problems. But the whole point of my position is... MORE

The College Fun Puzzle

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Question: If college is so much more fun than getting a job, why are irresponsible, impulsive slackers less likely to start college and more likely to drop out?... MORE

Opera and Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
When I argue that the social benefits of education are grossly overrated, one thought bothers me: Poorly-educated people bore me.  If education levels fell to efficient levels, the long-run effect would be a world with fewer people for me to... MORE

Education and Sibling Contrast

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
You probably know a family where some of the kids went to college and others didn't.  IQ aside, what are the crucial differences between the ones who went and the ones who didn't?... MORE

Why I Am Not a Left-Libertarian

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
As a radical libertarian, pacifist, champion of open borders, and mortal enemy of Columbus, I seem like an easy convert to left-libertarianism.  Proponents like Sheldon Richman and Rod Long are smart and earnest people.  Their motives are pure.  Still, their... MORE

Boaz Teaches Virtue to Social Conservatives

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Cato's David Boaz tries to show social conservatives the path of virtue:Those are reasonable concerns, but they have little or no relationship to abortion or gay marriage. Abortion may be a moral crime, but it isn't the cause of high... MORE

Terrible Turnaround

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
We often have ethical arguments about when it's morally permissible for us to do seemingly terrible things to them.  Examples:1. When is it morally permissible for us to deliberately drop a nuclear bomb on their civilians?2. When is it morally... MORE

Immigration and the Minimum Wage

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
David Henderson's got two quibbles with my talk on immigration:First, [Bryan] says that if we didn't get rid of the minimum wage, legal immigrants would just get black-market jobs. That's true, but incomplete. Precisely because they would now be legal,... MORE

The Senile Walrasian

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
When economists explain supply-and-demand, they often invoke the Walrasian auctioneer.  Imagine we all gather together at a massive auction house, with all eyes on the auctioneer in the front.  He calls out prices, and the attendees call out quantities.  When... MORE

Immigration Restrictions: A Solution in Search of a Problem

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
The video and slides from this week's GMU Econ Society/FFF talk are up.  They're easier to follow if you watch them in tandem.P.S. FFF president Jacob Hornberger's review is enough to make me blush.... MORE

Since there's a lot of interest in my case against high-IQ misanthropy, here's a fuller discussion from Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids:You Don't Have to Raise the Average to Pull Your Weight        Eighty percent of success is showing... MORE

Free-Market Education Reform: Austerity vs. Choice

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
In response to my defense of austerity over "constructive" free-market reforms, Adam Ozimek blogs:I find plausible his speculation that privatizing social security could lead to policies intended to prop up the stock market, like TARP x 100. However, I have... MORE

Tiananmen Square Hypothetical

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Suppose the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests ended not in a bloodbath, but in the collapse of Chinese Communism and the establishment of multi-party democracy.  What would have happened to the Chinese economy between 1989 and today?  Would it have done... MORE

Against High-IQ Misanthropy

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Out of all the reactions I've heard to Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, the most disturbing are all variations on "Except stupid people.  They shouldn't have kids."  I could snark, "You mean people like you?," but that would be... MORE

Highlights from The Rational Optimist

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
I finally got around to reading Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist.  Highlights:1. Ehrlich's errors were worse than I realized:In March of that year India issued a postage stamp celebrating the wheat revolution.  That was the very same year the environmentalist... MORE

Klein, Laughter, and the Academy

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Dan Klein considers, then rejects, the analogy between male nurses and non-left professors:In their paper, Gross and Fosse are suggesting that men don't want to become nurses because people will giggle at that. Perhaps there is something to that. There... MORE

Austerity for Liberty

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
Suppose that in 2005, Bush managed to "privatize Social Security" to a politically astonishing degree.  Under the hypothetical legislation:1. Workers are free to divert 100% of their future payroll tax into private accounts.2. Workers are free to immediately ask for... MORE

Pension Fact of the Day

Social Security
Bryan Caplan
I took three reads to get Robin's point, but it's profound:While the ratio of folks over 65 to younger adults (OADR) will almost double in 45 years, the ratio of disabled to healthy adults (ADDR) will hardly change at all.In other... MORE

Education: First Cut, Then Improve

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Education can be improved; I don't deny it.  For example, I think vocationally-oriented German high school is clearly more efficient than the goofy American approach.  My first choice is a free market in education; but if government insists on subsidies,... MORE

My Complete Bet Inventory

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
University of Chicago student Brian McDonald has graciously inventoried all my outstanding bets, including a couple I'd forgotten about.  His complete list:Bryan Caplan's bets in order of closing date: 1. "I've bet my $200 to Walter's $1 that Ron Paul... MORE

The other day, Tyler Cowen challenged me to name any country that I consider under-educated.  None came to mind.  While there may be a country on earth where government doesn't on net subsidize education, I don't know of any.On the... MORE

Rothbard on Communism: Something Sensible

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
As a rule, I find Rothbard's take on the history of Marxism-Leninism to be misguided, if not absurd.  But these paragraphs from Rothbard's 102-page critique of a now-forgotten American history textbook are excellent:This is all he says of the nature... MORE

I just emailed the final version of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids to Basic Books.  Without Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times... MORE

Buying a House With 20/20 Hindsight

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
Knowing what you now know, suppose that you could pick one year between 1987 and 2010 to buy a house in the U.S.  The catch: It's a one-time deal, and you have to hold the house until 2010.  When you're... MORE

For Ye Have Signaling Always With You

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Many economists assume that market forces will somehow figure out a way to make signaling costs disappear.  But as far as I can tell, they never explain why signaling costs would be easier to eliminate than any other costs.  And... MORE

My Reply to Bill - Digest Version

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
While writing my final reply to Bill Dickens, I often wished I were writing six short posts instead of one long one.  My favorite could-have-been free-standing points (Bill's in quotes, I'm not):1. Policy implications.Further, you must believe that there is... MORE

Education and Signaling: Rejoinder to Bill Dickens

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Today I'm celebrating Labor Day by continuing my exchange with Bill Dickens on the signaling model of education.  (Previous rounds here, here, and here).  What's the Labor Day connection?  Simple: If I'm right, we'd be collectively better off if we... MORE

Should I Take to Drink? The Latest Evidence

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
The last time I asked "Should I take to drink?," the best evidence seemed to say "Don't bother."  Now Hanson and Crampton say the totality of the evidence is indeed in favor of moderate drinking, confounds notwithstanding.  Hmm.... MORE

Immigrants and American Culture

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
While preparing for my upcoming talk on immigration, I decided to flesh out my claim that states with lots of immigrants are cultural beacons, and states with few immigrants are boring cultural wastelands.  It's even more true than I thought. ... MORE

Selfish/Self-Interested

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Agree or disagree: "Selfish" is to "self-interested" as "cheap" is to "thrifty."Please explain your answer.... MORE

I've grown slightly anxious about my bet with John Quiggin on European unemployment.  But Sumner's a great therapist:An optimist like me would argue that we aren't about to copy the French statist model; dramatically higher minimum wages, generous UI benefits,... MORE

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