Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: October 2011

An Author Archive by Month (25 entries)
Yesterday, while reviewing my tax withholdings, I noticed a weird anomaly.  In 2011, for the first time in my life, my employer was paying more Social Security taxes than I was.  I furrowed my brow until I remembered this earlier... MORE

The Brother's Keeper Bill

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Suppose someone proposed a "Brother's Keeper Bill."  According to this BKB, people earning at least double the poverty line would be financially obliged to give 20% of their income to any sibling earning less than the poverty line.I doubt many... MORE

Nash Equilibrium in Higher Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
In a Nash equilibrium, every actor maximizes his utility given the behavior of all the other actors.  Arum and Roksa's Academically Adrift contains one of the best (implicit) applications of the concept I've ever read.  They name all the key... MORE

Education: Economic vs. Academic Perspectives

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The more I read about education, the more I realize that social scientists have two radically different approaches.  The first is the economic approach: Judging education by pecuniary return.  According to the economic approach, education is a great success.  The... MORE

Bok's Economics of Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
If Derek Bok were a labor economist, how would he justify the following passage?  Context: Bok is criticizing accountability standards for higher education.[T]he measures used are generally too crude to be helpful.  Some of them track outcomes that are largely... MORE

Another Education Bet?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Mark Little proposes an interesting bet in the comments:Bryan, I will not take your bet but will offer you the opposite one--that the proportion will be not less that 10% HIGHER. I believe that your signalling theory is correct, but... MORE

Higher Education Bubble?: Getting to Bet

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
David Henderson nobly expresses interest in my proposed bet:I might take that bet. But I don't believe on betting on a change in a number without having a good idea of what the number is now. Please tell me the... MORE

Stably Wasteful: Why New Tech Won't Gut Higher Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
If the human capital model of education were true, educators should be worried.  Modern information technology makes it possible to teach skills for a fraction of the traditional cost.  If imparting skills were the main function of schooling, higher education... MORE

David on 2nd-Best Immigration Policy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
David made me think a second time about second-best immigration policy.  My thoughts on his:1. I think Bryan drastically understates the ability of even fairly low-skilled workers to come up with a substantial five-figure admission fee. (I'm assuming the fee... MORE

Paying to Immigrate: Admission Fees vs. Surtaxes

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
As a half-way measure, pro-immigration economists often argue in favor of charging immigrants an admission fee.  It's better than not letting them in at all.  But there are two big problems:1. Admission fees are especially hard on low-skill immigrants.  Even... MORE

How Kahneman Underestimates Luck

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
When I received Kahneman's Thinking: Fast and Slow, I opened to a random page, and found a big error:The idea that large historical events are determined by luck is profoundly shocking, although it is demonstrably true.  It is hard to... MORE

Quiggin the Pacifist?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
My betting partner John Quiggin seems to be in near-perfect agreement with my pacifism:When is violence justified as a response to manifest and apparently immovable injustice? My answer, with Martin Luther King is: Never, or almost never... In large measure,... MORE

The Toothpick Problem

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
Two days ago I posed the following hypothetical:Suppose half of the sectors of the economy grow forever at 4%, while the rest completely stagnate.  I'm strongly tempted to say that this economy's growth rate equals 2% forever.  Anyone tempted to... MORE

Tell Me the Growth Rate

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
Suppose half of the sectors of the economy grow forever at 4%, while the rest completely stagnate.  I'm strongly tempted to say that this economy's growth rate equals 2% forever.  Anyone tempted to disagree?  If so, why?Before you answer: Would... MORE

Rojas' Grad Skool Rulz

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Fabio Rojas' pearls of wisdom for grad students are now available as a concise, information-packed $2 e-book.  Definitely worth the money if you have any noticeable interest in grad school.  My only complaint: He left out my single favorite piece... MORE

The Profound Sumner

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Great hard-to-summarize post by Scott Sumner.  Highlights:I'd like to make some observations about inequality.  First as a person, then as an economist.  These are based on 56 years of observing all kinds of people, in all sorts of different situations. [After... MORE

The Rotten Spouse Theorem

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Even after a bitter divorce, people often pay their ex a compliment: "He was a bad husband, but he's always been a good father" or "She was a bad wife, but she's always been a good mother."  Gracious, yes.  But... MORE

"But what about the kindergarten study?"  I hear this question all the time.  Questioners are referring, of course, to Chetty et al.'s "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings?  Evidence from Project STAR."  Fans of the paper often claim... MORE

Progress, Academics, Streetlights, and Keys

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The best argument against vocational education is economic change.  What's the point of preparing students for occupations that won't even exist by the time they finish their studies?  In Left Back, Diane Ravitch skewers Progressive-era educators for their lack of... MORE

When They Take Over, We'll Be Them

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
True story: A Jewish senior complained to me, "There are hardly any regular Caucasians left."  I couldn't resist pointing out that when he was a kid, Jews weren't "regular Caucasians."  Everyone - Jews and Gentiles alike - saw the Jews... MORE

Financial Dysfunction: Who Shares the Blame?

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Bryan Caplan
When people eat and drink too much, most of us blame the consumer.  Businesses don't force anyone to become obese alcoholics; they're just responding to consumer demand.  If people started spending their money more wisely, business would uncomplainingly cater to... MORE

Misvocational Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Progressive education was a mixed bag.  The bag's best item: Its proto-signaling critique of the curriculum.  Progressive educators heaped scorn on the teaching of Latin and Greek - and often history and science as well.  Why?  Because most of the... MORE

Did IQ Research Cause U.S. Immigration Restriction?

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
People who believe in the importance of IQ often conclude that they've found a scientific rationale for immigration restrictions.  They're wrong.  But has their mistaken inference led to more restrictive immigration policies?  The Immigration Act of 1924 seems like the... MORE

Goolsbee, Friedman, and 1980

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Milton Friedman's Free to Choose t.v. series is now 30 years old.  To celebrate, PBS is re-running highlights, followed by new panel discussions.  I was just on one of these panels: me, Austan Goolsbee, Amity Shlaes, and Clarence Page.  (Pre-recorded;... MORE

Grading the Four Faces of Progressive Education

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Ayn Rand raised me to despise Progressive education.  Now that I'm reading Diane Ravitch's Left Back, though, I'm learning that "Progressive education," like Walt Whitman, contained multitudes.  Ravitch identifies four distinct - and often conflicting - trends:First was the idea... MORE

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