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Bryan Caplan: April 2013

An Author Archive by Month (25 entries)

A Charitable Parable

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
From Matt Zwolinski: Guy stuck on the side of the road. Car tire blown out. Waves down passing car. Libertarian/Marxist in the car: "Sorry, buddy. What we need is structural change. In a [Communist Utopia/Freed market], there would be far... MORE

The Evasion of Equity

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Economics textbooks often speak of the "efficiency-equity trade-off."  The definition of efficiency is fairly clear.  But what exactly is "equity"?  When cornered, most economists say that equity is a synonym for "fairness" or "distributive justice."  In practice, however, most economists... MORE

A Supererogatory Provision

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I incline to the view that giving charity to deserving strangers is morally good but not morally required.  To use philosophical jargon, I hold that charity is supererogatory.  However, the fact that I consider charity to be above and beyond... MORE

Open Borders in The Atlantic

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The Atlantic profiles Vipul Naik, Michael Clemens, Michael Huemer, and other champions of free migration.  Highlights:What if there was a program that would cost nothing, improve the lives of millions of people from poorer nations, and double world GDP? At... MORE

Bewerunge and Rosen's working paper on public- versus private-sector compensation begins with a discussion of recent controversy:Putting the inflammatory rhetoric aside, much of the debate boils down to the question of whether public and private sector workers receive about the... MORE

Back in 2010, USA Today and other popular media loudly declared that federal employees were grossly overpaid.  Famed economist Peter Orszag swiftly denied this allegation on behalf of the Obama administration.  I found his response extremely suspicious, but was too... MORE

The Grave Evil of Unemployment

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Free-market economists rarely declare, "We have to do X about unemployment."  Why not?  Free-market economists' standard reply is just, "We expect X to fail."  Their critics, however, have a less favorable explanation: Free-market economists oppose X because free-market economists are... MORE

Can Expectations Save Communism?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Every social system requires favorable expectations to survive.  Democracy can't survive unless people expect losing parties to voluntarily surrender power.  Anarcho-capitalism can't survive unless people expect private defense firms to peacefully resolve their disputes.  Once you take the power of... MORE

ZMP, Morale, and Statistical Discrimination

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Recent Twitter exchange between myself and Tyler:@tylercowen: [ZMP] is about morale effects in the workplace, not "finding something for them to do," the latter is trivially easy.@bryan_caplan: This reply deserves mischief-free elaboration.@tylercowen: Is there a difference?@bryan_caplan: Asking "Is there a... MORE

What You Say When You Don't Call an Applicant

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
"If your phone doesn't ring, it's me."  When a potential employers doesn't call about your application, they're telling you something about you - but they're also saying something about themselves.  My friend Perry Metzger explains:[Reprinted with Perry's permission.]BTW, one effect... MORE

What You Say When You Throw an Application Away

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Tyler has an odd interpretation of an interesting story.  The story:[R]esearchers sent out 4,800 fake résumés at random for 600 job openings. What they found is that employers would rather call back someone with no relevant experience who's only been out... MORE

Immigration and Bubbles

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Vipul Naik called my attention to an interesting comment on immigration and bubbles:Isn't the bubble idea in opposition to the unlimited immigration idea? Your bubble advice boils down to surrounding yourself as much as possible with like minded people. Immigration... MORE

Make Your Own Bubble in 10 Easy Steps

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Someone on Twitter asked for advice on how to create a Beautiful Bubble.  Perhaps he was teasing me, but it's a good question.  Here's my 10 Step Program:1. Amicably divorce your society.  Don't get angry at the strangers who surround... MORE

AI and GE: Answers

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Last week I posed the following question from my Ph.D. Micro midterm: Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Suppose artificial intelligence researchers produce and patent a perfect substitute for human labor at zero MC.  Use general equilibrium theory to predict the overall economic... MORE

The Effect of Intelligence on Job Performance is Intuitive

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
From Schmidt and Hunter, "General Mental Ability in the World of World" (2004, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology):Why Is GMA [General Mental Ability] So Important for Job Performance?It can be difficult for people to accept facts and findings they... MORE

Art's Bet

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
First, let me join the rest of EconLog in welcoming guest blogger Art Carden.Second, I'm extremely pleased that Art quickly proposed a home school bet.  Betting is what separates us from the mass of men who live by loose and... MORE

Is Econ a Mickey Mouse Major?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
My intellectual conscience engages whenever I speak of "Mickey Mouse majors."  After all, many people see my own discipline - economics - as a prime example.  Are they wrong?It depends.  There are at least four different senses of the "Mickey... MORE

Letters to Kim Jong-Un

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
A thought-provoking request from the noble Vipul Naik, reprinted with his permission:If you were to write a letter to Kim Jong-Un with suggestions on how to improve living conditions in North Korea, what would you write in the letter? Assume... MORE

IQ and Hiring: Does the Law Matter?

IQ in Economics
Bryan Caplan
While investigating the legality of hiring based on educational credentials and IQ tests, I came across an interesting old post by Half Sigma.  Why credentialism is safe but IQ tests aren't:[I]t's OK to use college degrees as a hiring requirement...... MORE

International IQ Testing Bleg

IQ in Economics
Bryan Caplan
A series of queries that's stumping most of my favorite IQ researchers:Are there any countries where IQ testing for hiring purposes is totally legal?  Largely legal? Do we have any idea if the education premium rose less in those countries... MORE

AI and GE

Growth: Consequences
Bryan Caplan
My favorite question from this year's Ph.D. Micro midterm:Suppose artificial intelligence researchers produce and patent a perfect substitute for human labor at zero MC.  Use general equilibrium theory to predict the overall economic effects on human welfare before AND after... MORE

Legality of Credentialism Bleg

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
I'm looking for sources about the legality of hiring on the basis of educational credentials.  If you've got any pointers for me, please share them in the comments.P.S. Evidence on what firms can safely do in practice is much more... MORE

Blood and Expectations: The Case of the American Liquor Industry

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you had a meeting with Al Capone in 1923.  He tells you, "The Irish are giving us trouble with their cut-rate beer, so we're gonna rub 'em out."  You'd probably feel a chill run down your spine.  You certainly... MORE

Crazy Equilibria: From Democracy to Anarcho-Capitalism

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Imagine advocating democracy a thousand years ago.  You sketch your basic idea: "Every few years we'll have a free election.  Anyone who wants power can run for office, every adult gets a vote, and whoever gets the most votes runs... MORE

Major Premium

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Economists usually talk about the college premium, but the college premium heavily depends on your major.  At the same time, though, stronger students typically choose harder - and more lucrative - majors.  Thus, the college premium is doubly infected by... MORE

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