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Bryan Caplan: October 2013

An Author Archive by Month (21 entries)

Debate Results

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
The Intelligence Squared debate results are in. I performed near the peak of my ability, but my very best was not good enough for the live audience. Not by a long shot: Our side actually lost 4 percentage-points, and... MORE

See Me Today at Intelligence Squared

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Tonight I'm debating for Intelligence Squared in New York City.  The resolution: "Let Anyone Take a Job Anywhere."  Vivek Wadhwa and I are arguing for the affirmative case; Ron Unz and Kathleen Newland are arguing the negative case.  The entire... MORE

Even famous economists occasionally tell me that, "Firms have no incentive to train workers in general job skills."  The argument: Once firms teach workers general job skills, the newly-trained workers can immediately threaten to quit unless they get a raise. ... MORE

I Would Argue

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
After reading a draft of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, Tyler Cowen bemusedly told me, "You have more enthusiasm for your own arguments than you do for the children themselves."  A slight exaggeration, but I take it as a... MORE

Trust, Diversity, Credit Cards, and E-Commerce

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Modern social scientists are in love with trust.  Economists, sociologists, and political scientists all eagerly explain that high-trust societies work, and low-trust societies don't.  Trust is so beloved that many leftist social scientists have started to sound like social conservatives. ... MORE

Why Not Compulsory College?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
A few nay-saying libertarians and unschoolers aside, almost everyone favors compulsory K-12 education.  Yet virtually no one favors compulsory college.  It's quite a mystery.  If mandatory education is a great idea at the primary and secondary levels, why would it... MORE

Pick Your Poison

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you need a helper, but face two imperfect candidates:1. A smart person who only cares about himself.2. A stupid person who only cares about you.Under what conditions would you prefer #1?  Under what conditions would you prefer #2?  Why? ... MORE

Why Do Firms Prefer More Able Workers?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Academics habitually tax the public's patience with stupid questions.  It's easy to see why practical folk ignore us.  Every now and then, though, an academic asks a truly profound question that seems stupid on the surface.  Case in point: David... MORE

Does College Pay Off for Cashiers? Yes & No

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Two years ago, David Leonhardt argued that B.A.s pay, even for careers that don't require them.  The title: "Even for Cashiers, College Pays Off."  Is this true?I've spent the last two weeks tracking down the data.  Leonhardt relied on Anthony... MORE

The Iron Laws of Pedagogy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Everyone who's ever been a student can vouch for what I call the Iron Laws of Pedagogy:First Iron Law: Students learn only a small fraction of what they're taught.Second Iron Law: Students remember only a small fraction of what they... MORE

My Two Modes

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Sometimes I wonder if I'm an extreme cynic or an extreme idealist.  The truth is that I'm both.  My mind works in two different modes.I enter my idealist mode whenever someone proposes a reform that could plausibly make the world... MORE

Who Treats You Worse?

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
My impression is that customers treat workers worse than bosses.  But perhaps I'm wrong.  Question for all people who interact with both customers and bosses: who treats you worse?Please show your work.... MORE

Why Not Protect Workers from Customers?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Most countries have a long list of "worker protection" laws.  Laws protect workers against low pay, lack of benefits, discrimination, sexual harassment, overtime at normal pay, and much much more.  Basic labor economics teaches us to view these laws with... MORE

A Challenge for Anti-Keynesians

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Many of my favorite people are strident anti-Keynesians.  In their eyes, Keynesianism isn't just false; it's incoherent pseudo-science, a blight on our fair economics profession.  Those who think of Keynesianism as pseudo-science generally hold all Keynesians in one dim view. ... MORE

A Cheap, Inoffensive Way to Make Democracy Work Better

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Experts agree: The typical voter knows next to nothing about politics, economics, or policy.  In a democracy, this has major negative externalities.  Existing civics education is supposed to deal with these externalities, but it's been an abject failure: Students learn... MORE

When Is Abolitionism Justified?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Tyler on open borders:In my view the open borders advocates are doing the pro-immigration cause a disservice.  The notion of fully open borders scares people, it should scare people, and it rubs against their risk-averse tendencies the wrong way.This raises... MORE

Fun Facts on Disability Insurance

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
The new Cato Policy Analysis on Social Security Disability Insurance is full of fun facts. (footnotes omitted)The U.S. disability rate fell 25% between 1977 and 1987, then more than doubled.  The staunchest health care skeptics should be baffled.  Unless, of... MORE

A Micro-Mincer regression estimates personal income as a function of personal education and controls:ln Personal Income = a + b*Personal Years of Education + other stuffUnless b is very large, b approximately equals the individual education premium.  b=.09, for example,... MORE

Morbid Thinking

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
We often accuse each other of wishful thinking.  Only rarely, though, do we accuse each other of the opposite cognitive vice: morbid thinking.  The disparity could be purely linguistic, but it probably isn't.  We have tons of synonyms for "wishful... MORE

Would Obamacare Have Saved Walter White's Soul?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
[Warning: Non-Finale Breaking Bad Spoilers]The Daily Beast's Jamelle Bouie claims that Obamacare would have ruined the premise of Breaking Bad:Remember, the instigating action of the series is White's cancer diagnosis--in order to pay for his treatments and leave a nest... MORE

A Primer on Malemployment

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Fogg and Harrington provide an excellent intro to the empirics of malemployment.  Highlights:Definitions:Mal-employment, a variant of underemployment, is based on the concept of over-education. It represents a mismatch between skill requirements of the job and the education of the worker:... MORE

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