Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: May 2012

An Author Archive by Month (33 entries)

1>0, and Other Thoughts on Apprenticeships

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Last night I heard Robert Lerman of American University make the case for apprenticeships as an alternative to standard academic education.  He got considerable pushback from the audience.  Some of the leading complaints: 1. Unlike standard academic education, which prepares... MORE

Firing Aversion Bleg

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I'm having trouble finding any pre-existing academic literature on firing aversion.  Google Scholar has two hits for "firing aversion" and zero hits for "hirer's remorse."  Anyone know of any relevant research under another name?P.S. Much oblige to kenneth and steve... MORE

Somin on Extremer Extremists

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Ilya Somin at Volokh Conspiracy methodically answers my questions about extremer extremists.  My original suggested response umbrellas:1. Public relations. Views more extreme than your own are counter-productive because they alienate the moderates you need to convince to get better results.... MORE

A Signaling Theory of Suboptimal Telecommuting

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Americans spend a ton of time commuting.  According to happiness researchers, commuting is the low point of the typical day.  If you look at the jobs that people actually do, though, it's hard to understand why so many workers continue... MORE

The Extremer Extremists

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I'm an extremist.  I freely admit it.  The status quo is deeply immoral, and would remain so even if there were many moderate changes in the right direction.  Many EconLog readers presumably think the same, even if they sharply disagree... MORE

Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Guy Delisle's latest graphic novel, Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City, is outstanding - second only to his transcendent Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea.  Like most of Delisle's books, Jerusalem is a non-fiction travelogue.  His wife works for Doctors... MORE

Caplan v. Murphy on Paul: Getting to Bet

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Bob Murphy's confident that Ron Paul will have a lasting political legacy.  I'm not.  He proposed a bet, I counter-offered, and we haggled.  Bob reproduces our haggling with permission.  My offer #1:Right now there are roughly zero members of Congress... MORE

The Terrorist Contradiction

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
After watching Carlos - a dramatization of the life of notorious terrorist Carlos the Jackal - I had an epiphany.  Carlos supposedly turns to terrorism because the wicked bourgeois imperialists don't understand any language but violent resistance.  But the only... MORE

A Neglected Private Benefit of Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
One neglected lesson of Charles Murray's Coming Apart is that, due to changing family structure, the private return to education has risen even more than it seems.  In the 60s, rates of marriage and divorce barely varied by education level. ... MORE

The Freedom to Disown

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
[Warning: Downton Abbey spoiler near the end.]Once your children come of age, you are free to disown them.  A parent can financially and emotionally cut off his own children with legal impunity.  The children have the same right, but since... MORE

Ron Paul's Revolution

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired is the latest book by historian and journalist Brian Doherty.  Like his magisterial Radicals for Capitalism, Ron Paul's Revolution is first and foremost an oral history.  Doherty lays out all... MORE

Market Failure: The Case of Organic Food

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Right-leaning people typically believe that (a) markets work, and (b) organic food is a scam.  I definitely fit the profile.  As a result, my every trip to the grocery store inspires cognitive dissonance.  Organic food isn't merely on the shelves;... MORE

The Ethos of Arthur Brooks

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Ethos (Credibility), or ethical appeal, means convincing by the character of the author. We tend to believe people whom we respect. One of the central problems of argumentation is to project an impression to the reader that you are someone... MORE

Would a World Plebiscite Lead to Open Borders?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
People occasionally say that "Democracy and open borders are incompatible."  If they're talking about national democracy, they're right.  But suppose we actually lived up to the democratic "one man, one vote ideal" by having a world plebiscite on open borders. ... MORE

The Road to Freedom: Bumps and All

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Reading Arthur Brooks' The Road to Freedom is eerily like having a conversation with myself.  He never calls himself a libertarian, and certainly never mentions Ayn Rand or Thomas Reid.  But the Hollywood pitch version of Brooks' book is "Rand... MORE

Arbitrary Intervention

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Life is full of suffering.  At least that's what the Buddha tells us - and if you're a glass-half-empty kind of person, you'll find endless confirmation.  In a statist society, our response often seems to be, "If there's a problem,... MORE

Ron Paul vs. the Median Voter Model

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I'm already devouring Brian Doherty's Ron Paul's Revolution.  Brian's such a great writer and such a careful historian - a true treasure.  To me, though, the biggest puzzle isn't how Ron Paul can command the loyalty of 5% of the... MORE

Thanks for many good answers on the Kim dynasty vs. the stationary bandit model.  But as far as I can tell, no one drew the distinction I was looking for: durability versus stability.The Kim dynasty is clearly durable: it's ruled... MORE

The Kim Dynasty vs. the Stationary Bandit Model

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Question from the final exam for my graduate Public Choice class:The Kim family has ruled North Korea for three generations.  Doesn't the stationary bandit model imply that the country should be prospering?  If so, what's wrong with the stationary bandit... MORE

Why Applicants Don't Volunteer Their Test Scores

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Lots of great feedback in response to last week's question, "Why don't applicants volunteer their test scores?"  I'm increasingly impressed by the wide range of first-hand education/job experiences; clearly the world is full of puzzles few economists have ever conceived,... MORE

Does breast-feeding really give your kids a leg up in life?  It's an important question, and there's a lot of research on it.  But most of the research is, at best, moderately convincing.  The key weakness: If parents falsely believe... MORE

Education Signaling in China

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Yang, a Manchester student from China, emailed me some interesting observations about education signaling in China.  Reprinted with his permission.Professor Caplan, Your signalling model is illuminating. Allow me to furnish you with some data from China. After secondary schooling, students in China... MORE

Wax's Behavioral Economics of the Family

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Scott Beaulier and I argue that behavioral economics explains a lot about poverty; indeed, the poor deviate from neoclassical assumptions to an unusually large degree.  Consider, for example, the fact that the poor are far more likely to be single,... MORE

Why Don't Applicants Volunteer Their Test Scores?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
When lawyers hear about the signaling model of education, they often invoke the Supreme Court case of Griggs vs. Duke Power.  Griggs created a strong legal presumption that it is "discriminatory" for employers to hire on the basis of IQ... MORE

Eugenics, Malthusianism, and Trepidation

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The Nazis were eugenicists and Malthusians (see Mein Kampf, chapter 4).  They wanted to murder "the inferior" because they were convinced there wasn't enough food to go around.  The Malthusianism told them that millions had to die; the eugenics told... MORE

Schooling, Income, and Reverse Causation

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Economists normally measure the private return to education by estimating a "Micro-Mincer" regression: (1) log(personal income in $s)= a + b1*(individual education in years) Given crucial assumptions, b1 is the private return to education.  I've discussed some of these crucial... MORE

Online Education: The Best-Case Scenario

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Do you think that online education is going to put traditional universities out of business?  Great.  Now tell me: Who moves first?  It easy to say, "Forget brick-and-mortar college.  I'm 'going' to Online U."  But what kind of students will... MORE

Bet for Brooks: No Education Tsunami Is Coming

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
David Brooks joins the list of people who think that higher education is going the way of the daily newspaper:What happened to the newspaper and magazine business is about to happen to higher education: a rescrambling around the Web. I... MORE

The Bettor's Oath

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Another great thing about my new daughter: she got me to start watching Game of Thrones.  The first episode didn't hook me last year, but now I can't stop thinking about the show.  I've even been inspired by the Night's... MORE

Unrealist Foreign Policy

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
From Sean McMeekin's The Russian Origins of the First World War:To assume that Russia really went to war on behalf of Serbia in 1914 is naive.  Great powers do not usually mobilize armies of millions to protect the territory of... MORE

Social Justice of the Gaps

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Consider the so-called "God of the gaps" argument:1. There are many questions that science hasn't - and perhaps never will - answer.2. Therefore, God exists.You could call this this a straw man, and insist that no theist ever really made... MORE

Moderate immigration reformers usually argue in favor of more skilled immigrants.  As a matter of economic efficiency, are they correct?  Suppose skilled immigrants earn $30,000 at home and $100,000 here; unskilled immigrants earn $1000 at home and $25,000 here.  Then... MORE

The Able Slave

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Suppose there are ten people on a desert island.  One, named Able Abel, is extremely able.  With a hard day's work, Able can produce enough to feed all ten people on the island.  Eight islanders are marginally able.  With a... MORE

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