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Bryan Caplan: February 2014

An Author Archive by Month (22 entries)

Wolfers Responds on Happiness

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Justin Wolfers kindly responded to my recent post.  His thoughts, reprinted with his permission. Interesting, fun, provocative, and well written.  Your math looks to be right to me. Some thoughts: 1. I'm not sure that controlling for confounds necessarily would... MORE

Crude Materialism versus the Wolfers Equation

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you're a crude materialist who believes that money is the secret to happiness.  You're estimating an equation of the form: Happiness (in Standard Deviations) = a + b * ln(income) How big should you expect b to be?  Well,... MORE

The Singaporean Path to Cosmopolitanism

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Singapore has one of the most open immigration polices in the world.  But these policies do not currently enjoy popular support.  According to the World Values Survey, Singaporeans seem more anti-immigration than Americans:Only 4% of Singaporeans favour open borders, and... MORE

How Welfare Hurts Walmart

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Walmart's critics often argue that food stamps, Medicaid, and other poverty programs subsidize its labor force.  Since government pays a big part of its workers' living expenses, Walmart doesn't have to.  Is this true?As long as non-workers remain eligible for... MORE

The Minimum Wage vs. Welfare: Band-Aid or Salt?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Peter Thiel entertains what economists would call a "second-best" argument in favor of raising the minimum wage:"In theory, I'm against it, because people should have the freedom to contract at whatever wage they'd like to have. But in practice, I... MORE

Ambition Revisited

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
I just ran across some more striking evidence that ambition really matters.  James Rosenbaum's "College-For-All: Do Students Understand What College Demands?" (Social Psychology of Education, 1998) shows degree completion as a function of high school students' GPA and educational aspirations.Exhibit... MORE

Desert versus Identity

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When moderns read the Old Testament, they're often horrified by the gruesome collective punishments.  Mankind falls into wickedness, so God sends a flood to drown every man, women, and child on earth?*  Before the book is over, though, the prophets... MORE

My Cato Address to Students for Liberty

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
On Friday, the Cato Institute hosted a reception for Students for Liberty - and gave me the honor of welcoming them.  Here's what I said.Welcome Students for Liberty!  I'm so happy to see all of you in the world's greatest... MORE

Ballparking the Marital Return to College

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
When education correlates with a good outcome, labor economists are usually eager to publicize the fact.  There is, however, one glaring exception.  Labor economists rarely announce that the well-educated are more likely to marry a well-educated spouse - and capture... MORE

Lenin the Prohibitionist

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Mark Lawrence Schrad's new Vodka Politics: Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State is more than good; it's novel.  Despite my long-term interest in Russian history, much of what Schrad had to say was genuinely new to... MORE

What Bad Students Know that Good Economists Don't

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The college premium skyrocketed over the last three decades.  B.A.s now out-earn high school grads by 70-80%.*  College graduation, in contrast, barely rose.  In econospeak, the supply of college graduates looks bizarrely price-inelastic.Over the last two months, I've read virtually... MORE

Evolutionary Psychology on Crusonia

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Suppose two 20-year-olds wash up on a the desert island of Crusonia.  One is male, the other female.  They are both from the same country, but are otherwise randomly selected.  Both are convinced they have no hope of escaping the... MORE

The Futility of Quarreling When There Is No Surplus to Divide

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Imagine two people have the following relationship options:Option A: DateOption B: Be FriendsOption C: Stop Seeing Each OtherPerson #1's preference ordering is: {A, C, B}.  In English, #1 most prefers to date, and least prefers to just be friends.Person #2's... MORE

What the Swiss Vote Really Shows

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The Swiss just passed a referendum to restrict immigration from the EU.  Tyler thinks this shows that open borders is a hopeless cause.  When immigration gets too high, public opinion naturally turns against immigration. Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 In my view... MORE

A Question of Organizational Literacy

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
What fraction of Americans can correctly explain the difference between a business and a corporation?Please show your work.... MORE

Bias and Bigness Bleg

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
Question for anyone who thinks that the existing regulation regime is well-designed to protect the interests of big business: Why do so many regulations exempt firms with small numbers of employees (typically 50 or less) - and so few regulations... MORE

How Rival Marriage Is

Family Economics
Bryan Caplan
Last month, I observed:If you share your home with a spouse, you don't have as much space for yourself as a solitary occupant of the same property.  But both of you probably enjoy the benefits of more than half a... MORE

AMA Highlights

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
Last night's Ask Me Anything was a treat.  Main surprise: I was expecting more weird and personal questions.  A few highlights:[-]eliaspowers Hi Bryan, There has been a lot of talk online recently on the merits of a Basic Income Guaranty or... MORE

Diasporas, Swamping, and Open Borders Abolitionism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Paul Collier's Exodus makes one great obvious-once-you-think-about-it point: diasporas matter.The third big thing we know [about immigration] is that the costs of migration are greatly eased by the presence in the host country of a diaspora from the country of... MORE

Ask Me Anything Tonight

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
I'll be doing an Ask Me Anything tonight at 9 PM EST on reddit.  Here's the link.HT: Michael Tontchev for setting this up.P.S. Please post your questions on reddit, not the EconLog comments.... MORE

Obituary Hypothetical: What If Mengele Cured Cancer?

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Josef Mengele is one of history's most infamous Nazi war criminals.  A doctor, he notoriously performed grotesque medical experiments on human beings without their consent.  If you're strong of stomach, here's a small sample of what Dr. Mengele did to... MORE

Meet James Schneider

Econlog Administrative Issues
Bryan Caplan
Allow me to introduce EconLog's latest guest blogger, James Schneider.  James was my best friend at Princeton econ.  Way back in 1993, he heard a rumor I was Princeton's token libertarian.  As soon as he confirmed the rumor, we became... MORE

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