Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: June 2011

An Author Archive by Month (36 entries)

Perfectionist Parents: Perfect Yourself

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I've got a question for perfectionist parents who strive to raise prodigies: Instead of pushing your kids to succeed, why don't you try to perfect yourself instead?  Why don't you start taking piano lessons for three hours a day?  Why... MORE

Tell Me the Value of a Fake Harvard Diploma

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Our story begins with a 22-year-old high school graduate with a B average.  He knows an unscrupulous nerd who can hack into Harvard's central computer and give him a fake diploma, complete with transcript.  In the U.S. labor market, what... MORE

Four Unrelated Points on Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
1. Tyler Cowen responds on signaling.  He saved his best argument, though, for this morning's conversation in his office.  Are we really to believe, he asked me, that signaling is the one force that vitiates the rule that everyone earns... MORE

Ability Bias vs. Signaling Again

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
In response to my last post on education, Tyler writes:[Bryan] cites the signaling motives for education and concludes: "Here, the evidence Tyler cites is simply irrelevant."  This is simply not true and indeed these papers are obsessed with distinguishing learning... MORE

Me and the Return to Education Literature

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Like Arnold, I take issue with Tyler's claim that:The view that education is mostly about signaling is inconsistent with the established consensus on the returns to schooling and yet the writers at EconLog do not respond to this literature or,... MORE

On July 13 at 7 PM, I'll be debating GMU law professor (and my co-author) Ilya Somin on "What Liberty Implies for Foreign Policy."  Location:George Mason Law School Room 221 3301 Fairfax Drive Arlington, VAI will defend pacifism.  Ilya will... MORE

Is "Mimic the Elite" A Good Rule of Thumb?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
David Leonhardt's defense of education almost totally neglects the strongest argument against education: that much of it is privately profitable but socially wasteful signaling.  But his closing sentence changes the subject in an interesting way:I don't doubt that the skeptics... MORE

How to Make Me Lose an Ideological Turing Test

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I bet I would do relatively well on ideological Turing Tests.  But whenever I say the words "I bet," my mind starts to imagine losing scenarios.  If someone wanted to make me fail an ideological Turing Test, what kinds of... MORE

Best Ezra Klein Post Ever

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
Here's the best Ezra Klein post ever.  And here's the best sentence of the best Ezra Klein post ever:What's remarkable about the financial crisis isn't just how many people got it wrong, but how many people who got it wrong... MORE

The Ideological Turing Test: Religious Edition

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Leah Anthony Libresco is looking for partners and judges for an ideological Turing Test on Christianity and atheism:I'd like to put my money where my mouth is and play in an ideological Turing Test against a Christian blogger. We could... MORE

Jose the Meritorious

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Has there ever been a better poster child for what I call "Meritocracy Without Borders" than Jose Antonio Vargas?  The guy won a Pulitzer prize without the legal right to hold a job.  Imagine what he could have accomplished free... MORE

Vargas and Understatement

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
I am in awe of Jose Antonio Vargas.  He has more courage in his little finger than I have in my whole body.  Which makes his understated byline all the more puzzling:Jose Antonio Vargas is a former reporter for The... MORE

Prison Rape: Becker-Acton Model Confirmed

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
The latest U.S. Department of Justice National Inmate Survey confirms my earlier report that prison staff commit more prison rape than prisoners.  Lovisa Stannow of Just Detention International boils down the results in Reason:The U.S. Department of Justice recently released... MORE

Define Courage: The Jose Antonio Vargas Story

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Incredible piece in today's NYT.  Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas reveals that he's been illegally living in the U.S. for twenty years:After my uncle came to America legally in 1991, Lolo tried to get my mother here through a tourist... MORE

Two Tries at the Ideological Turing Test

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
1. DeLong pretends to be Nozickian.2. I pretend to be conservative. Give me more examples of attempts to pass Ideological Turing Tests in the comments; I'll link to them.... MORE

Underestimating Overqualification

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Economists are finally waking up to the fact that many people are overqualified for their jobs.  You don't need a college degree to be a baggage porter or bellhop, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17% of them... MORE

Tacitus, Peace, and Desolation

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
One of Tacitus' most famous lines is "They make a desert and call it peace."  What I didn't realize until I read The Agricola is that Tacitus is quoting (or paraphrasing) Calgacus, an enemy of Rome.  The full speech (chaps... MORE

"Likes" as Tipping

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
If your work has a tip jar, conventional wisdom tells you to "seed" it.  Before your first customer shows up, put some of your own money in the jar.  When the marginal person sees money in the jar, he'll feel... MORE

The Ideological Turing Test

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
In a Turing Test, a computer tries to pass for human:A human judge engages in a natural language conversation with one human and one machine, each emulating human responses. All participants are separated from one another. If the judge cannot... MORE

Genetic Determinism vs. Parental Irrelevantism

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
I think that parents affect their kids in lots of ways.  Parents have big effects on religious affiliation and political party, small effects on many other traits, and a clear effect on the quality of the parent-child relationship.  And those... MORE

Running Scared

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Daniel Treisman's NBER paper on "The Geography of Fear" is full of entertaining facts, like:[P]redispositions to fear vary systematically across countries, and map the geography of fearfulness, concentrating on Europe for which data are most plentiful. I show that variation... MORE

Networks and Growth

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
When more people use a product, firms have a stronger incentive to improve it.  For some products, however, having more users is an improvement.  We call them "network products."  Phones are the classic example; they're useless unless other people have... MORE

Caplan vs. Chua Debate in the Guardian

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Tiger Mother Amy Chua and I have this week's Saturday Conversation in The Guardian.  Highlights:BC: Most of my book is based on a summary of 40 years of adoption and twin studies - the usual result is parents just don't... MORE

Wolfers on Kids and Income

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Over at Freakonomics, Justin Wolfers has a data-intensive critique of my claim that kids are, appearances withstanding, normal goods.  This naturally makes me nervous.  Wolfers has a disconcerting habit of publicly correcting others.  If I had an unlimited budget, I'd... MORE

Escape to Mongolia

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
From Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea:Unlike the Chinese, the Mongolians allowed the South Korean embassy in Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital, to accept North Korea defectors.  In fact, if North Koreans managed to sneak across the Chinese border... MORE

The Fourth Sector

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
Economists traditionally partition output into agriculture, manufacturing, and services.  In this framework, the appeal of "stagnationist" claims is relatively easy to see.  None of these three sectors seems amazingly innovative anymore; the visible progress is "just in computers."But is it... MORE

Kids Are Normal Goods for Both Genders

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} w\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} .shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);} 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 New Roman";} My Cato Unbound exchange with my... MORE

Cowardly Positions

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
One common criticism of pacifism is that it is "cowardly."  What might this mean - and is it true?1. "Pacifism is cowardly" = "Pacifists are cowards."  Given the unpopularity of pacifism - and the extreme unlikelihood that your pacifism tips... MORE

Population and Chess

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
Population doesn't just predict Olympic gold medals and movie production; it also predicts the average ranking of countries' top-ten chess players.  In a multiple regression, population and per-capita GDP both matter, just like Julian Simon and New Growth Theory tell... MORE

Immigration and the Welfare State

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
I still looking for the time to respond to Tino Sanandaji.  In the meanwhile, though, here's Henry Farrell on a new APSR paper on the political economy of the welfare state:[T]hey argue that if one tries to hold racial and... MORE

Crime Statistics and The Village

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
[Warning: Spoilers for a 2004 movie].At the end of M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, we discover a bizarre conspiracy: In the 1970s, a group of people whose loved ones were murdered move to the middle of nowhere in order to... MORE

Medicare Rules: Bring 'Em On

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
David Henderson argues that (thanks to the Gipper, no less), Medicare imposes price controls on health care:But what made it a system of price controls was that the government, along with DRGs, made it illegal for hospitals to charge even... MORE

Medicare, Rationing, Food Stamps, and Cigarettes

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Robin wasn't available for lunch today because he had a deadline.  If this is what he was working on, my loss was the world's gain.  From the NYT's Room for Debate:The British control costs in part by having the will... MORE

The Junker Problem

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
The Junkers didn't just make a noble attempt at tyrannicide in 1944; according to Exceptional People, Imperial Germany's landed nobility were also good on immigration:Faced by labor shortages because of Germany's economic boom, Prussian landlords recruited Poles and Ukrainians to... MORE

Fun Facts of Gilded Age Migration

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
More from Exceptional People:On average, 5 percent of the populations of Britain, Ireland, and Norway emigrated every decade between 1850 and 1910, which increased to 14 percent of the Irish population emigrating between 1890 and 1910.  By the turn of... MORE

If I Could Ask Amy Chua One Question

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
If I could ask Amy Chua one question, I'd start by quoting two passages from Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  In Passage #1, Chua describes her in-laws' parenting style:As parents, Sy and Florence were determined to give their children... MORE

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