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Bryan Caplan: January 2013

An Author Archive by Month (30 entries)

How to Recover Your Stolen Car

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
Very cool idea from a former taxi driver on MR:[I]f your car is ever stolen, your first calls should be to every cab company in the city. You offer a $50 reward to the driver who finds it AND a... MORE

Why Applicants Don't Volunteer Their Test Scores: Abigail's Insight

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
EconLog reader Abigail Haddad sent me an interesting email.  I'm reprinting it in full with her permission:Hi Bryan, I commented on "Why don't applicants volunteer their test scores?" last year and suggested that there was a verification problem, since employers... MORE

By now, I assume that everyone has read Michael Huemer's The Problem of Political Authority cover-to-cover.  Well, almost everyone.  Mike has generously agreed to field EconLog readers' questions.  Please post them in the comments, and he'll respond in a separate... MORE

Society of Lies

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Robin Hanson recently inspired me to re-read Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilych."  In a just world, social scientists of all descriptions would analyze this great work from a hundred different angles.  On my latest reading, though, what struck me... MORE

Making You Smarter

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Here's an excerpt from chapter 2 of the current draft of The Case Against Education.  Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Making You Smarter While educators often promise to teach students how to think, they rarely vow to raise students' intelligence.  Trying to "make... MORE

Revealing Sentence on Higher Ed

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
From the NYT's piece on the financial troubles of higher ed:25 percent of the private colleges that Moody's rated did not raise tuition in fiscal 2011 at or beyond the rate of inflation; 21 percent of rated public universities did... MORE

Sorrow and Anger

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
On Thursday, Casey Mulligan lectured on his The Redistribution Recession at GMU.  Lots of interesting, neglected evidence on the spike in labor market distortions since 2007.  Yet the talk was marred by Mulligan's commitment to a market-clearing model of labor... MORE

When labor economists say "work experience," they usually just mean (Age-Education-5).  Industrial psychologists are far more subtle.  Quiñones, Ford, and Teachout, "The Relationship Between Work Experience and Job Performance: A Conceptual and Meta-Analytic Review."  (Personnel Psychology, 1995) begins by distinguishing... MORE

Huemer's Common-Sense Libertarianism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
My very favorite section from Mike Huemer's The Problem of Political Authority begins by distancing himself from other libertarian philosophers:The ideas of this chapter will strike many as too extreme and far too libertarian. Are we really forced to accept... MORE

Acemoglu on Human Capital and Signaling

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
My colleague Mark Koyama pointed me to Daron Acemoglu's lecture notes on human capital and signaling.  Mostly theory, but with some neat empirical points mixed in.Highlight on human capital:But there is some evidence that could be useful to distinguish between... MORE

Russ on Progress and Signaling

Information Goods, Intellectual Property
Bryan Caplan
Russ Roberts replies to my recent post on progress and signaling:Bryan wants to argue that conformity ossifies our behavior, but the world around us is full of non-conformity that eventually becomes no big deal. The first few people who bought... MORE

Jonah Goldberg tries to play missionary to his Socially Liberal Fiscal Conservative friends.  He promisingly begins:Dear Socially Liberal Fiscal-Conservative Friend...[Y[ou know who you are. You're the sort of person who says to his conservative friends or co-workers something like, "I... MORE

What Will the Neighbors Say? How Signaling Ossifies Behavior

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you suddenly discover a far better way of doing X.  Your discovery uses fewer resources, yields higher quality, and even has more positive externalities than Ye Olde Standby.  There's just one catch: your discovery is a discovery.  By definition,... MORE

From the Archives: Comments on Huemer's Book Draft

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
A year ago I sent Mike Huemer the following comments on his book draft, then titled Freedom and Authority.  He's incorporated many of my suggestions, but if you're curious to peer inside the revision process, enjoy.  (Detailed comments using the... MORE

Billie Holiday, arguably the greatest jazz vocalist of all time, was also a heroin addict.  After serving her first prison term for narcotics possession, she endured further punishment at the hands of the nation's occupational licensing system.  From her autobiography,... MORE

A Conversation With Michael Huemer

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Michael Huemer, author of The Problem of Political Authority, has kindly agreed to take EconLog readers' questions about his new book.  To get maximum value from the exchange, read the book first ($30.40 on Kindle, $37.72 in paperback on Amazon... MORE

Money for Morals

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Over at Overcoming Bias, Robert Wiblin offers a tempting reward:Personally, I would like to think I take doing the right thing seriously, so I am willing to offer a monetary prize of £300 for anyone who can change my mind... MORE

The Problem of Political Authority by Michael Huemer

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I've read almost every major work of libertarian political philosophy ever published.  In my view, Michael Huemer's new The Problem of Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey is the best book in... MORE

Feeling vs. the Minimum Wage: A Hard-Headed Assessment

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The best response by far to yesterday's challenge was a pair of tweets by Dan Lin:@bryan_caplan Find a person who got laid off from a charity after minimum wage increase. She tearfully says "I just want to help people."@bryan_caplan Oprah... MORE

Feeling vs. the Minimum Wage

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Last week, I argued that some ideas are inherently hard to sell to people with "Feeling" personalities:If you're trying to sell libertarianism to Feeling people, "hard head, soft heart" ideas are more persuasive than "hard head, hard heart" ideas.  But... MORE

Marriage, Kids, and Party

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Lately I've often heard that family is the key divide between Democrats and Republicans.  Democrats are supposed to be single and childless, Republicans married with kids.  So I decided to check this out for myself in the General Social Survey. ... MORE

Two Soul-Searching Questions

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
1. Suppose you lived in a society with a massive, age-old injustice.  Think slavery.  Are you the kind of person who would staunchly oppose this injustice anyway?2. Suppose a colorful, feel-good movement advocating a massive, new injustice suddenly became fashionable. ... MORE

Wage Rigidity in Of Human Bondage

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When economists say "wage rigidity," they almost always mean downward wage rigidity.  Nominal wages almost never come down.  Yet in W. Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage, set in late 19th-century England, upward wage rigidity plays an interesting role in the... MORE

Pax Libertaria

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
As a rule, I dislike shouting matches.  But I especially dislike shouting matches between people I largely agree with.  As a libertarian, this puts me in an uncomfortable position, because many libertarians seem to relish shouting matches - even, or... MORE

Women, Liberty, Marketing, and Social Science

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Steve Horwitz and Sarah Skwire have restarted a long-standing debate about the shortage of libertarian women.  They make a very fair point: Libertarians should have been friendlier and more respectful to women - and turn over a new leaf forthwith. ... MORE

Vipul Naik of Open Borders sent me a very insightful email on the non-pecuniary returns to education.  He's kindly given me permission to reprint it.  Vipul speaks:I've been thinking more about your human capital/signaling/ability bias theories of education. It seems... MORE

If This Be Aspergers

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I've often heard people dismiss my dear friend and colleague Robin Hanson for his "Aspergers," his blindness to the way that most human beings feel and think.  They're not entirely wrong, but Robin's latest post, a review of a Peter... MORE

My Path to Open Borders

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
My open borders autobiography is now a guest post at Open Borders.  Since I strove to truthfully and unstrategically describe my intellectual evolution, even my harshest critics may enjoy it.  Highlights:Until I was seventeen, my views on immigration were completely... MORE

How I Was Wrong About Government Debt

Fiscal Policy
Bryan Caplan
When an individual owes three times his annual income, we think it questionable: Okay for recent home-buyers, but probably a bad idea.  But when a government owes 300% of GDP in peacetime, we think it blatantly irresponsible.  I've often been... MORE

Democracy in Singapore

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
The Singaporean blog TR Emeritus recently reprinted my "How I See Singapore," prompting critical response.  The main complaint is that I ignorantly claim that Singapore is a democracy.  I understand the pushback.  Singapore gets mediocre scores on international democracy ratings... MORE

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