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Bryan Caplan: October 2012

An Author Archive by Month (30 entries)

Why Is the National Return to Education So Low?

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Like Garett, I'm a huge admirer of Lant Pritchett's "Where Has All the Education Gone?" (World Bank Economic Review, 2001).  My favorite part of the paper is when Pritchett presents three stories that might explain his results:I discuss three possibilities... MORE

Cuba to Open Its Border (Outwards)

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Starting in January, Cubans will no longer need exit visas to leave their workers' paradise.  Just one problem: Are there any First World countries that will let them come?For that matter, what's the best Third World country that will let... MORE

Economic arguments about education often conflate human capital, ability bias, and signaling.  Since I am a big fan of Roderick Long's exhortation to "Whip conflation now!," I decided to do something to squelch this conflation.  Namely: Produce a clarifying table.The... MORE

Escaping Poverty: Your Friendly Advice

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Suppose a 15-year-old from a poor family in the First World asked you an earnest question: "What can I do to escape poverty?"  How would you answer?Responses from progressives, liberals, moderates, and left-libertarians are especially welcome.... MORE

A Bunch of Arguments in Favor of Regressive Tuition

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Florida may start varying tuition by major:Tuition would be lower for students pursuing degrees most needed for Florida's job market, including ones in science, technology, engineering and math, collectively known as the STEM fields.The committee is recommending no tuition increases... MORE

Firing Aversion: A Human Resources Perspective

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday I presented my case against education to GMU's Osher Lifetime Learning Institute.  As usual, the experience was a true merit good: picture a packed room of retirees full of enthusiasm and curiosity for the life of the mind.  The... MORE

Evil and Support for the Welfare State

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I've been reflecting on Garett's post on human evil and the welfare state ever since he wrote it.  The most striking passage:Bryan notes that by some moral standards, we don't owe much to strangers in general; if that's right, how... MORE

The death penalty has fallen into disfavor in recent years.  But what's the long-run trend?  I've intermittently wondered about this for over a decade.  Last night, I finally decided to check.I found a time series of total U.S. executions from... MORE

Earlier this month, Vipul Naik asked me to ask you about the persuasiveness of my case for open borders.  Today Vipul posted an extended analysis of your responses.  Very thoughtful, very careful, very fair.  Read the whole thing.... MORE

How Would a Georgist Single Tax Work in Monopoly?

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
Another fascinating aside from Larry White's The Clash of Economic Ideas (Kindle price just $23.40):Georgist theory was even the inspiration for the board game Monopoly.  The game's original creator called it "The Landlord Game" and intended it to illustrate the... MORE

Mish Bet Update

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
I'm pleased to report that the noble Mike Shedlock has paid up on our unemployment bet.  You might think this goes without saying, but I'm afraid to say that lesser men have failed to promptly pay up in the past. ... MORE

Why Not a Free Market in Educational Loans?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Suppose investments in education are every bit as fantastic as we're supposed to believe: Ability bias and signaling are myths, so the entire observed education premium is causal and socially valuable.  Even so, it's hard to see why government should... MORE

Two Verdicts on Two Replies to Two Replies

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
1. Garett and Me on EvilMy reply to Garett:I'd be much more impressed by an experiment showing that subjects spontaneously try to hurt others.  Suppose you tell them they can pay some money in order to change others' endowments.  Start... MORE

Does High School Algebra Pass a Cost-Benefit Test?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
"How much do students learn in school?"  The question is harder than it seems.  You get one answer if you measure their knowledge at the end of the school year or right before graduation.  You'll probably get a very different... MORE

Some Men Just Want to Please the Experimenter

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Garett's post on the prevalence of sheer malevolence is fascinating, but I'm not convinced.  A key fact about experiments is that many participants just want to please the experimenter.  Once they sit down in the lab, they start asking, "What... MORE

The Best Kinds of Free Education

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
EconLog reader Alan Shields sent me some interesting comments on my observation that the best education in the world is already free.  Reprinted with Alan's permission:I've been thinking about your thought experiment of "who would choose to take a course... MORE

True by Definition: Redistribution and Economic Freedom

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
My main complaint about Scott Sumner is that he still hasn't joined the faculty of George Mason's Economics Department.  But I'm also unhappy about the distinction he frequently makes between "size of government" (or "redistribution") and "market freedom."  The latest... MORE

Utopian Experimental Socialism

Alternative Economics
Bryan Caplan
Larry White's The Clash of Economic Ideas pointed me to a wonderful short essay by Joshua Muravchik.  In it, Muravchik makes the most original observation about socialism I've encountered in years: He ["Utopian socialist" Robert Owen] was no obscure crank.... MORE

Malcolm and the Nation of Islam (Chapters 11-15)SummaryAt the urging of his siblings, imprisoned Malcolm writes a letter to Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam.  Elijah Muhammad responds, and before long Malcolm is not just a true believer,... MORE

Imagine you live in a democracy surrounded by a hostile majority.  The median voter wants to deprive you of the rights to (a) accept a job offer from a willing employer, or (b) rent an apartment from a willing landlord. ... MORE

How Stagnant Are We? The Results

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
Remember my Time Diary Self-Experiment?  Only 41 people responded, so I take the feedback with a grain of salt.  Still, both of my predictions were correct.  To refresh your memory, I asked respondents to repeatedly ask themselves:1. Was my experience... MORE

My WSJ Review of Flynn's Are We Getting Smarter?

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
My review of James Flynn's Are We Getting Smarter? is in today's Wall Street Journal.  Highlights:When most people hear about the Flynn effect, they conclude that we really are getting smarter. Mr. Flynn is more cautious. He opens the book... MORE

Open Borders Persuasion Bleg

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Immigration restrictions probably have bigger effects on the world's economy than all other regulations combined.  As far as I can tell, virtually every moral theory - utilitarian, libertarian, egalitarian, Rawlsian, Kantian, Christian, and Marxist for starters -  implies that these... MORE

National Egoism and Vronsky Syndrome

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I was just at a conference where several eminent economists embraced the following principle:The United States should adopt whatever policies maximize the per-capita GDP of the existing population of the United States, and their descendents.It was frustrating to listen.  On... MORE

Can I Sit In?

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday morning I found myself in a shuttle with two of the world's most eminent labor economists.  So I presented one of my favorite puzzles for human capital extremists: Why is the best education in the world already free?  Colleges... MORE

I Win My Unemployment Bet With Mike Shedlock

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Back in 2010, Mike Shedlock ("Mish") and I agreed to the following bet:If the official initially reported U.S. monthly unemployment rate falls below 8.0% for any month between now and June, 2015, I win $100.  Otherwise, Mish wins $100. Since,... MORE

Autobiography of Malcolm X Book Club Update

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I'll post on part 3 (chapters 11-15) on October 12.... MORE

My post on "Tough Luck" sparked a Facebook conversation with the great Bill Dickens.  Reprinted with his permission:Bill: You've got to be kidding me. The problem with most of your examples is simple. While Libertarians have to say tough luck!... MORE

Tough Luck

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
"What if a poor person gets sick, doesn't have insurance, and can't get friends, family, or charity to pay for treatment?""What if an elderly person gets defrauded out of his entire retirement and the perpetrator vanishes into thin air?""What if... MORE

How Stagnant Are We? A Time Diary Self-Experiment

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
An argument I've repeatedly had with Tyler Cowen:Tyler: We're stagnating!Bryan: No we're not.  You're ignoring massive CPI bias.  We live in an age of consumption-biased technological change.  Official numbers don't adequately adjust for quality improvements, and utterly ignore the mountains... MORE

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