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Bryan Caplan: June 2012

An Author Archive by Month (34 entries)

The GSS and the Political Externalities of Immigration: A Guest Post by Sam Wilson

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
GMU Ph.D. student Sam Wilson recently mentioned on Facebook that he was using the General Social Survey to test for political externalities of immigration.  He posted a few crosstabs, but nothing more.  I immediately publicly offered him the chance to... MORE

The Curious Ethos of the Academic/Appointee

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
High-status academic economists often look down on economists who engage in blogging and punditry.  Their view: If you can't "definitively prove" your claims, you should remain silent.  At the same time, though, high-status academic economists often receive top political appointments. ... MORE

On Monday, my colleague Virgil Storr heard my IHS lecture on "The Case Against Education," and sent me some interesting comments.  Here's full exchange, with Virgil's kind permission.  Quick question: Do we have good ways of figuring out who will... MORE

When I first read David's latest post, I mentally reversed the true results.  I thought that every expert on the panel agreed that:A cut in federal income tax rates in the US right now would raise taxable income enough so... MORE

Evil Exceptions

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Philosophers spend a great deal of time crafting plausible exceptions to widely-accepted moral rules.  Sure, murder is wrong.  But what if you could murder a man on his death-bed to prevent a plane crash?  What if you could smother the... MORE

What Arrow Said About Education in 1973

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
In the early 90s, I saw Ken Arrow informally debate Murray Rothbard.  Arrow was not impressive; all he did was repeat tired textbook arguments about market failure.  My subsequent encounters with Arrow's thought were no better.  Early this year, however,... MORE

Real Subjects Have No Arbiter

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
When you challenge the morality of the status quo, people usually leap to its defense.  After a few rounds of argument, though, defenders of the status quo often retreat to meta-ethics.  Maybe immigration restrictions do seem wrong.  But how are... MORE

Final Reply to Ridley

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Matt Ridley once again graciously responds in the comments.  Our differences appear to have largely evaporated.  Ridley's in blockquotes, I'm not.But your challenge mistakes my argument. I have not argued that there is no positive correlation of innovation with population,... MORE

Rejoinder to Ridley on Innovation and Population

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Matt Ridley graciously replies to my critique of his Julian Simon Award Lecture in the comments.  Ridley's in blockquotes, I'm not:First, I know of a lot of people who are not conventionally clever but who contribute to innovation by making... MORE

Ridley, Simon, Population, and Innovation

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Matt Ridley ends his excellent Julian Simon Award Lecture with a criticism: Having paid homage to Julian Simon's ideas, let me end by disagreeing with him on one thing. At least I think I am disagreeing with him, but I may be... MORE

My WSJ Review of Born Together - Reared Apart

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
My review of Nancy Segal's history of the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart is in Thursday's Wall St. Journal.  Highlights:Nancy Segal's "Born Together--Reared Apart" is a thorough history of the project and of the 137 pairs of star-crossed twins... MORE

When I was in sixth grade, a 1967 copy of The Pageant of World History by Gerald Leinwand came into my possession.  While I learned a great deal from it, the book contains shocking omissions.  Here's what Leinwand says about... MORE

Jose Antonio Vargas Is Sadly Ineligible for Semi-Amnesty

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
Jose Antonio Vargas, the Rosa Parks of U.S. immigration law, is one year over Obama's cut-off for semi-amnesty.  But Vargas is too noble not to celebrate:Obama's temporary order, however incremental and incomplete, is the most significant development in the fight... MORE

Of Honor Codes and Social Contracts

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
When I was at Princeton, every exam began with a strange ritual required by the Honor Code: Students had to sign a promise not to cheat.  The promise reads:I pledge my honor that I have not violated the honor code... MORE

Nullification or Nothing

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Arnold doesn't share my conditional jubilation over Obama's semi-amnesty.  Arnold's in blockquotes, my replies follow.Even if you want open borders, I am not sure that this is how you want your goals accomplished. I see no other politically possible way... MORE

Here are six theses on extremely unjust laws that I dare you to dispute:1. Extremely unjust laws are conceivable.2. Extremely unjust laws exist.3. It is morally permissible to break an extremely unjust law.4. It is morally permissible to evade punishment... MORE

Is Obama's Semi-Amnesty for Real?

Labor Mobility, Immigration, Outsourcing
Bryan Caplan
I don't just think that immigration restrictions are bad policy; I think they're a grotesque crime against humanity - with all that implies.  Given this starting point, Obama's semi-amnesty for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants sounds like the best... MORE

Burrus and Merit: Final Thoughts

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Trevor Burrus continues our previous exchange on merit and liberty (see here, here, here, and here for previous installments).  Trevor misses one of my key points here:Bryan asks, if the question of merit is incidental to the case for free... MORE

Does Portugal Show the Signaling Model Is Wrong?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Tyler mischievously taunts me on Twitter:Good thing the Portuguese saved all those resources which Sweden wasted on signaling.On MR he adds:In 2009, only 30 percent of Portuguese adults had completed high school or its equivalent, according to figures from the... MORE

Trevor Burrus, I Want to Convert You to Meritocracy

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The meritorious Trevor Burrus responds to my defense of merit against his critique.  Though he's not crying uncle, Trevor concedes a key point:Bryan argues that "the correlation between market success and merit is imperfect, [but] still fairly high." Great success... MORE

Toga! Toga!

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
"Excellent."  That's what Tyler calls Noah Smith's effort to salvage the human capital model.  Noah's story: Students learn lots of useful job skills outside of class by socializing together.[U]seful skills, which you mostly learn on the job, are not the... MORE

A Puzzle for Human Capital Extremists Revisited

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
A while back I posed the following puzzle to those who dismiss the signaling model of education:Why do students rejoice whenever a teacher cancels class?From a human capital standpoint, students' attitude is baffling.  They've paid good money to acquire additional... MORE

Gerald Prante on Means-Testing

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Gerald Prante of the Tax Foundation, author of the best dissertation I ever chaired, emailed me some interesting comments on means-testing.  Reprinted with his permission:Saw your post with regards to means-testing Social Security and Medicare. Such a system would likely... MORE

The meritorious libertarian Trevor Burrus has unfortunately joined the ranks of libertarians against merit:Libertarians are often accused of advocating for a merit-based society. The free market, the argument goes, produces a distribution that more-or-less corresponds to how meritorious the people... MORE

Replies on Means-Testing

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I'm happy to see all the feedback on my latest means-testing post, but I wish more readers engaged my original question.  After presenting one simple means-testing formula, I asked:In the new political equilibrium, how much do you predict the full... MORE

Means-Testing and Political Economy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Why not means-test Social Security and Medicare?  On the surface, this seems like a perfect liberaltarian reform.  Libertarians should favor drastic cuts in government spending, liberals should favor drastic cuts in government spending on the rich, and both should favor... MORE

If You Don't Like It: Reply to Some Comments

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Thanks for many thoughtful comments on "If You Don't Like It."  A few that particularly grabbed me:Tom P:I think we can give a friendlier interpretation to Roehling's terms. "Bargaining power": you spend many years working for a firm, developing human... MORE

If You Don't Like It

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Suppose your boss screams all the time, has extremely bad breath, or requires all his employees to speak in a faux British accent.  Even today, the law usually offers you no recourse - except, of course, for "If you don't... MORE

One of the best ways to get a raise from your current employer is to get a better offer from a competing employer.  You just tell your boss, "Match their offer or I walk."  The risk, of course, is that... MORE

From Cheating to Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Alex Tabarrok cleverly notes that cheating on exams would be pointless if the human capital model were the whole truth:Cheating works best if the signaling model is true. If education were all about increasing productivity and if employers could measure... MORE

The Return to SAT Preparation Classes

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
SAT preparation classes don't work wonders, but they do work.  Herrnstein and Murray have a nice graph in The Bell Curve: A cynic might object that (a) you're only improving your SAT score, not your underlying cognitive ability, and (b)... MORE

Firing Aversion: A Cross-Cultural Study

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Thanks to EconLog readers, I've finally located some real empirics on what I call "firing aversion" (see here, here, and here).  My favorite piece so far: "Cultural Influences on Employee Termination Decisions" (European Management Journal, 2001).  The authors analyze a... MORE

Tyler Momentarily Embraces Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Loyal Marginal Revolution reader Nick_L asks Tyler:What's the most important economics question you ever asked?Tyler answers:"What is the required type font for submitting this dissertation?"I'm fond of saying that if I refused to study a foreign language in high school... MORE

Vocational Education: Do Students Suffer in the Long-Run?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I've shown the following NBER abstract (from Hanushek, Woessmann, and Zhang) to several economists:Policy debates about the balance of vocational and general education programs focus on the school-to-work transition. But with rapid technological change, gains in youth employment from vocational... MORE

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