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Bryan Caplan: November 2013

An Author Archive by Month (23 entries)

Illusory Bubbles

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Scott Sumner succinctly explains how illusory bubbles can appear in a world ruled by the Efficient Markets Hypothesis:How should Bitcoin be priced?  If there is a 95% chance that it will soon be worthless and a 5% chance that it... MORE

Why Buildings Aren't Taller

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
Whenever Robin Hanson turns to urban economics, I expect to be edified.  A prime example:Urban economics studies the spatial distribution of activity. In most urban econ models, the reason that cities aren't taller is that, per square meter of useable... MORE

Means-Testing and Behavioral Econ

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I'm a big fan of means-testing (see here, here, and here for starters).  Analytically, though, stringent means-testing is indistinguishable from high marginal tax rates.  In both cases, the government takes away a big chunk of every dollar you earn.  Philosophers... MORE

Rising Male Non-Employment: Supply, not Demand

Income Distribution
Bryan Caplan
Tyler recently approvingly quoted Brad DeLong paraphrasing Larry Summers:My friend and coauthor Larry Summers touched on this a year and a bit ago when he was here giving the Wildavski lecture. He was talking about the extraordinary decline in American... MORE

Hoxby vs. Dale-Krueger on the Selectivity Premium

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
People who attend more selective colleges make more money after graduation.  But students impressive enough to win admission to selective colleges probably would have been relatively successful even if they'd attended a less prestigious institution.  That's ability bias for you. ... MORE

Gun Grabbing: A Reversal of Fortune

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
While reflecting on the Briggs-Tabarrok Effect, I stumbled across a shocking Gallup survey.  Back in 1959, Gallup started asking a random sample of Americans the following question:What about the possession of pistols and revolvers -- do you think there should... MORE

GMU economic historian Mark Koyama emailed me some comments on my Industrial Revolution post.  Reprinted with his permission.  Note that Billington's figures imply a work year between 3900 and 4500, even assuming, contrary to Billington's lurid picture, that workers got... MORE

The Economic Illiteracy of High School History

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
In 11th grade, I took Advanced Placement U.S. History.  I enjoyed it at the time.  Once I started studying economics, however, I was outraged by the economic illiteracy of my history textbooks.  Mainstream historians barely mentioned the unprecedented miracle of... MORE

Bartender, Cashier, Cook, Janitor, Security Guard, Waiter

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The human capital and signaling stories can both explain the existence of malemployment.  But malemployment research still provides some of the most compelling evidence in favor of the signaling model.  The latest draft of my The Case Against Education explains... MORE

How Staggering is the Briggs-Tabarrok Effect?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Rumor has it that GMU's Justin Briggs and Alex Tabarrok have hammered the final nail into the NRA's coffin.  Zack Beauchamp of Think Progress explains:A new study, coauthored by a libertarian-aligned economist, has found strong evidence that the spread of... MORE

Hobbesian Misanthropy in The Purge

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Remember my Hobbesian thought experiment?Suppose a random person is living on a desert island without hope of rescue. Call him the Initial Inhabitant, or I.I. Another random person unexpectedly washes up on shore, coughing up water. Call him the New... MORE

Would Buy-and-Hold Cut Finance Down to Size?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The U.S. financial sector is now 8.4% of GDP.  It grew from about 2% of GDP in the late 1940s to about 8% in 2000; it's been roughly flat since.  From the Wall St. Journal:My question: Suppose buy-and-hold investment strategies... MORE

Why Nations Fail: A Contrarian Take

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Acemoglu and Robinson's Why Nations Fail has been widely praised and extremely influential.  But one of the most brilliant students I've ever taught, Nathan Smith, provides a contrarian perspective.  According to Nathan, it's......one of the most over-rated books I've ever... MORE

Unz Debate Analysis

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I suspect many readers are suffering from post-immigration-debate fatigue.  In the interests of fairness, though, here is my opponent Ron Unz's takeaway.... MORE

The Learning of the Wise

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Non-economists often advertise their ignorance of economics.  Debate opponent Ron Unz is the latest to cross my path:Now, you know, I'm laboring under a disadvantage in this debate because not only am I not a trained economist, I've never even... MORE

The Decline of Creative Destruction

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Though I've been a harsh critic of Tyler's Great Stagnation thesis, I was struck by the following figure in Edmund Phelps' Mass Flourishing:At first glance, this confirms a quarter-century of steadily declining creative destruction - falling job creation and job... MORE

Play and Exit

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I've now read Peter Gray's Free to Learn twice.  To be honest, he's the first unschooler to deeply impress me as a thinker and a writer.  Before I discuss the heart of his book, I plan to read his key... MORE

Vivek Wadhwa Responds

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
My debate teammate Vivek Wadhwa accepted my offer to post a response to my analysis of the debate.  Vivek:Bryan, feel free to post what you like. I am in favor of legalizing all the workers who are in the US... MORE

Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 It's hard to believe we're even debating "Let anyone take a job anywhere."  If someone said, "The law should prevent women from working," or "The law should prevent Jews from working," or "The law should prevent... MORE

At risk of sounding like a sore loser, I've claimed that many Intelligence Squared participants initially voted metaphorically.  The resolution said "Let Anyone Take a Job Anywhere," but many attendees voted For simply because they are pro-immigration by mainstream American... MORE

The Naik Strategy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
An interesting Facebook post by the noble Vipul Naik, reprinted with his permission.  Vipul:I think Bryan Caplan could have won the Intelligence Squared debate by pandering to his audience in the following ways: (1) Stated that "America is a nation... MORE

Debate Analysis: Unz, Wadhwa, and Me

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Two of my co-debaters, Vivek Wadhwa and Ron Unz, sent out newsletters analyzing the debate.  Opponent Ron Unz:As a useful means of gauging the impact of the arguments, the organizers take before and after votes of the large New York... MORE

Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 "Let anyone take a job anywhere."  Given current policy, it sounds radical.  But notice: The resolution does NOT say "Let anyone become a citizen anywhere," "Let anyone collect government benefits anywhere," or "Let anyone vote anywhere." ... MORE

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