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Bryan Caplan: November 2011

An Author Archive by Month (26 entries)

Sociologists on Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
From educational sociologist David Labaree's foreward to David Brown's Degrees of Control: A Sociology of Educational Expansion and Occupational Credentialism:[C]redentialism is astonishingly inefficient.  Education is the largest single public investment made by most modern societies, and this is justified on... MORE

Two Mock Interviews

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Imagine interviewing the following two job applicants.Applicant #1: Currently unemployed.Applicant #2: Currently employed.Question: For each applicant, would you expect him to be (a) more productive than the average currently employed worker, (b) less productive, or (c) as productive?  Why?... MORE

The Magic of Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I've been in school for the last 35 years - 21 years as a student, the rest as a professor.  As a result, the Real World is almost completely foreign to me.  I don't know how to do much of... MORE

Bias Against Speculation?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson recently discussed research finding that atheists are widely disliked because people see them as less trustworthy.  He then posed a logical followup question: "So are atheists actually less trustworthy?" and offered a tentative answer: "I'd guess that they are, but... MORE

Dostoyevsky on Gratitude

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Only two days after Thanksgiving did I remember this wonderful passage on gratitude from The Brothers Karamozov:This legend is about Paradise. There was, they say, here on earth a thinker and philosopher. He rejected everything, 'laws, conscience, faith,' and, above... MORE

A Puzzle for Human Capital Extremists

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you believe whole-heartedly in the human capital theory of schooling.  Appearances notwithstanding, everything that students study gives them additional marketable skills - at least probabilistically.  I have a question for adherents of this position: Why do students rejoice whenever... MORE

Final Points on ZMP

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Tyler makes some thoughtful points on ZMP.  Replies:1. There has been plenty of evidence for "labor hoarding"; oddly, once the ZMP workers start actually being fired, the concept suddenly becomes controversial.  The simple insight is that firms don't hoard so... MORE

Your Thoughts on the Eurasian Union

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Three days ago Russian, Kazakhstan, and Belarus formed the Eurasian Union, designed to do for the former Soviet bloc what the EU did for Europe:[E]xperts stated that apart from post-Soviet states, membership to the Eurasian Union could be expanded to... MORE

Blame Everyone

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Scott Sumner says much I agree with about nature, nurture, and behavior.  When Ronald Green argues that obesity is caused by genes rather than laziness and lack of self-discipline, Scott retorts:Do you see the problem with Green's assertion?  He asks... MORE

How Elite Firms Hire: The Inside Story

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
I highly recommend Lauren Rivera's "Ivies, Extracurriculars, and Exclusion" (Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 2011).  Not only is the piece careful, edifying, and interesting; it's even emotionally affecting.  Learning more about elite hiring actually replaced my apathy toward elite... MORE

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:The discovery that the Dutch researcher Diederik A. Stapel made up the data for dozens of research papers has shaken up the field of social psychology, fueling a discussion not just about outright fraud, but... MORE

The Reasons for My Hostility to ZMP

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
My brilliant former student Eli Dourado wonders why I'm so hostile to the Zero Marginal Productivity (ZMP) theory of high unemployment:It is hard to think of another idea that is more Caplanian. This is after all the man who pointed... MORE

My Back-Up Plan

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Today at lunch we were discussing the predictability of career outcomes.  How often do small chance events make or break a person's success?  Eventually someone brought the case down to earth: What would have happened to me, Bryan Caplan, if... MORE

In my last reply to Arnold, I asked for a "Guide to Discontinuity/ZMP for Skeptics."  Arnold's response:The main evidence that I cite against the AD/AS story is the length of unemployment spells and the large number of workers who are... MORE

Reply to Arnold on PSST

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
My last post critiqued Arnold's PSST ("patterns of sustainable specialization and trade") alternative to the conventional aggregate supply/aggregate demand model:In Arnold's story, firms and workers violate the First Law of Wing Walking: Never let hold of what you've got until... MORE

PSST vs. the First Law of Wing-Walking

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
For the last couple of years, Arnold has been energetically promoting a macroeconomic alternative to the standard AS-AD model.  He calls it PSST - "patterns of sustainable specialization and trade": I focus on patterns of trade to try to avoid... MORE

My lecture "Immigration Restrictions: A Solution in Search of a Problem" begins with the following hypothetical:Moved by the plight of Haitian earthquake victims, you go to Haiti to aid in the relief efforts.  After two weeks, you're ready to go... MORE

Identity and Misanthropy

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Paul Kelleher's critique of my recent post on mobility and misanthropy is a rare pleasure.  He begins by carefully explaining and defending a position on personal identity that I've repeatedly championed.  Kelleher:  The following claims seem true: I could have... MORE

The Paltry Effect of Political Correctness

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Sure, colleges are full of politically correct indoctrination.  But how well does the indoctrination actually work?  Poorly.  How College Affects Students reviews the whole literature and finds that:Net of the attitudes and other characteristics students bring with them to college, the... MORE

From Mobility to Misanthropy

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Scott Winship's written a good piece on ingenerational income mobility... with one highly objectionable passage.  Ponder the underlying philosophy here:[R]educing the number of unplanned pregnancies would unquestionably reduce the number of children experiencing divorce and other disadvantages. Since it is... MORE

Immigration Restrictions as Affirmative Action

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
One of my closest conservative friends is chronically angry about (a) immigration and (b) affirmative action.  The irony is that the immigration restrictions he so passionately favors are affirmative action - for native-born workers.Advocates of standard affirmative action see the... MORE

In Time

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
[Warning: spoilers]Sci-fi thriller In Time has a simple premise: In the future, people become immortal as long as they don't run out of the crucial tradable commodity: time.  Everyone is born with 26 years of life; to live longer, they... MORE

Moral Theory & Voluntary Overpayment of Taxes

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Tyler, responding to Karl Smith, responding to Steve Landsburg, asks:[I]f government action to redistribute income is morally required, in the meantime is not greater private charity morally required too?Tyler's not impressed with Karl's position.  Karl:If we want to be truly... MORE

The Signal of Protest

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
If you were an employer, would you want to hire an Occupy Wall Street protester?  Probably not.  In fact, it's hard to imagine an employer seeing a protester on TV, then thinking, "I've got to hire him!"  Protesters are arguably... MORE

My confidence in the empirical importance of the signaling model of education generates a lot of pushback from my fellow economists.  For starters, see my arguments with Bill Dickens, Tyler Cowen, Karl Smith, and Arnold.  Which got me wondering: How... MORE

Poverty, Conscientiousness, and Broken Families

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Right-wingers should spend a lot more time reading left-wing ethnography of the poor.  It may seem strange, but when leftist social scientists actually talk to and observe the poor, they confirm the stereotypes of the harshest Victorian.  Poverty isn't about... MORE

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