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Bryan Caplan: August 2013

An Author Archive by Month (29 entries)

Why Can't Labor Be More Like Housing?

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
During recessions, demand for both housing and labor plummets.  But the two markets respond in very different ways.In the housing market, we usually see dramatic price falls.  Lots of properties sit on the market for months.  But almost any property... MORE

The Tears of Termination

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Earlier this year, I argued that Casey Mulligan's theory of labor market contradicts introspection:Ask yourself:When someone gets laid-off, what is his main emotional reaction likely to be?  Sorrow.When someone gets a nominal wage cut, what is his main emotional reaction... MORE

The Partialtarian Corporation

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Noam Chomsky calls corporations "totalitarian" without a hint of irony (gated version only):...I'd like to strengthen the federal government. The reason is, we live in this world, not some other world. And in this world there happen to be huge... MORE

Peace On Earth Is Almost Here

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
The ceaseless ugliness of the news notwithstanding, the Great Pacification continues.  Check out Wikipedia's latest map of Ongoing Military Conflicts, circa October 2012.The minor wars are usually dwarfed by private crime.  Even most of the major wars would have seemed... MORE

The Means-Testing Club

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
We advocates of means-testing need a name for our club.  Singapore and Tyler Cowen (somewhat surprisingly) could be charter members.  Tyler, from Singapore: Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 This is oversimplifying of course, but you can think of the Singaporean system as... MORE

Good Students Rule

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Most professors like good students, but I idolize them.  For most professors, good students are a joy in the classroom, but a chore outside of the classroom.  For me, good students are a joy through and through.  I like talking... MORE

Lake Wobegon on the Job

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Neat stuff from Baker, Jensen, and Murphy's "Compensation and Incentives: Practice vs. Theory" (Journal of Finance, 1988):The lack of financial incentives reported by Medoff and Abraham [32] and summarized in  able I is surprising, but even more surprising is the... MORE

The People of Economath

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Paul Krugman graciously responds to my economath post, but demurs:It turned out -- and still turns out -- that people's economic intuition, if untutored by models, missed a major possibility that is in fact probably the main story.My question for... MORE

Economath Fails the Cost-Benefit Test

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Paul Krugman responds to Noah Smith's tale of disillusion with mathematical economics:I share much of his cynicism about the profession, but I think he's missing the main way (in my experience) that mathematical models are useful in economics: used properly,... MORE

I am pleased to announce that on October 30, I will be debating before Intelligence Squared.  The resolution: "Let Anyone Take a Job Anywhere."  The teams: Vivek Wadhwa and me for the resolution, Ron Unz and TBD against.The event is... MORE

Japan Bet Bleg

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Scott Sumner has kindly agreed to bleg my request to help craft a bet with Bill Dickens:Bill Dickens wants to bet me that looser Japanese monetary policy won't boost Japanese NGDP.  What victory conditions should a market monetarist consider prudent... MORE

Dehiring: Win-Win-Lose

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Suppose your firm has a mediocre employee.  He's not ridiculous, but he's worth a lot less than you pay him.  What does your firm do?Econ professors' knee-jerk answer is, "Fire him."  But people with real jobs often notice a rather... MORE

Expressive Voting, Emigration, and Alsace-Lorraine

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
In 1871, the German Empire annexed the French territory of Alsace-Lorraine, known to the Germans as Elsass-Lothringen.  The inhabitants were overwhelmingly German-speaking, but most clearly resented absorption into the new German Empire.  What is striking, however, is how differently this... MORE

The Programmatic Paternalist

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you were a free-thinking, hard-core paternalist.  Regardless of the forms of paternalism that people in your society will accept, you're determined to give them forms of paternalism they need.  If coercing people for their own good will in fact... MORE

Gaming on EconLog: A History of Nerddom

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Today I'm taking my twins to their first GenCon, the world's biggest gaming convention.  In honor of this glorious day, here are my top gaming related EconLog posts.1. The Secret of Good Games2. The Sociology of RPGs3. The Social Science... MORE

What Happens to Women Who Are Denied Abortions?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
In Joe Colucci's thoughtful response to my "Nudge and Abortion," he writes:[D]ata saying that women are generally happy with their children, even after unplanned pregnancies, are unlikely to be representative of the population we're. More relevant evidence comes from the... MORE

Nudge and Abortion Followup

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
"Nudge and Abortion" has sparked a lively Twitter debate.  Leigh Caldwell has most thoughtful reaction:Leigh: @BafMacro but: @bryan_caplan's arg holds IF his preference premise is true. Regretting NEVER having kids != regretting an abortion @R_ThalerMy response to Leigh: I didn't... MORE

Huemer Symposium at BHL

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
The Bleeding Heart Libertarians symposium on Mike Huemer's The Problem of Political Authority starts today.  Don't miss it!... MORE

Nudge and Abortion

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Here's my ongoing Twitter exchange with Richard Thaler: Thaler: As @CassSunstein and I say repeatedly in Nudge, the goal is to improve outcomes for people AS JUDGED BY THEMSELVES, not policy maker's tasteMe: .@R_Thaler @ATabarrok @CassSunstein So what existing *hard*... MORE

Why No Slippery Slope? Because Paternalists Start at the Bottom

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
If libertarian paternalism is a slippery slope, why aren't we sliding?  Don Boudreaux provides the obvious answer: Because almost all paternalism is coercive from the get-go:One reason why the empirical record isn't more full of nudges turning into diktats is... MORE

Sympathy for the Citizenist

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Citizenists strike me as extraordinarily angry people.  But I have to admit: If I were them, I'd be angry too.  Consider their intellectual situation: Every orthodox moral theory - utilitarianism, Kantianism, egalitarianism, libertarianism, wealth maximization, Rawlsianism, Christianity, and Marxism for... MORE

Tribalism, Misanthropy, and the Lesser Evil

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I've long attacked tribalism and misanthropy as grave evils.  Only recently, though, have I had two epiphanies:1. Tribalism without misanthropy is fairly harmless.  If you're optimistic about the potential of the typical human, you'll see out-groups as opportunities for mutually... MORE

Open Borders Logo Contest

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
The Open Borders blog is sponsoring an Open Borders logo contest.  Fab Rojas explains:The Open Borders movement seeks a symbol that embodies the spirit of free migration. To achieve that goal, we are sponsoring a logo contest. The winner of... MORE

Upstart Bleg: Help Paul Gu Help You

Business Economics
Bryan Caplan
Paul Gu, one of the winners of Peter Thiel's 20under20 fellowships, has co-founded a company called Upstart.  In this guest post, he explains his idea, pre-answers common questions, and solicits novel questions.  And now... Paul Gu! Human Capital Contracts for... MORE

Do Wage Cuts Reduce Communal Purchasing Power?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I'm frankly stunned that Krugman would approvingly quote the following passage from Keynes:[I]f a particular producer or a particular country cuts wages, then, so long as others do not follow suit, that producer or that country is able to get... MORE

Libertarianism as Moral Overlearning

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
"Overlearning" is a key idea in educational psychology.  One good explanation:Overlearning is a pedagogical concept according to which newly acquired skills should be practiced well beyond the point of initial mastery, leading to automaticity.In experiments, researchers often test the effects... MORE

Immigration, Misanthropy, and the Holocaust

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The Museum of Jewish Heritage in NYC features an outstanding exhibit on European Jewry's struggle to escape from Hitler's clutches.  Throughout the 1930s, the Nazis officially encouraged Jewish emigration.  The catch: By definition, every emigrant from Nazi territory had to... MORE

Business Brainwashing and Vocational Education

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I'm a huge fan of child labor, also known as "vocational education."  Almost everyone would be better off if students in the bottom half of their class began full-time apprenticeships after elementary school.  If you hate sitting still and you're... MORE

Who's Second-Guessing

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The issue from yesterday post was... drug policy.  The author, Scott Morgan, is reacting to Mark Kleiman's disinterest in the legalization option.  Kleiman:But there are things we can do about drug policy that would reduce the number of people in... MORE

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