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Bryan Caplan: October 2014

An Author Archive by Month (23 entries)

Does Identity Politics Pay?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
When I scoff at group identity, critics often call me naive.  Won't anyone who heeds my advice to eschew identity politics end up being victimized by all the folks who do take their group identities with utmost seriousness?  Then rational... MORE

The Identity of Shame

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Every large, unselective group includes some villains.  Say whatever you like about the average moral caliber of Christians, atheists, Democrats, Republicans, plumbers, comic book fans, or Albanians.  The fact remains that each of these groups contains some awful people.  While... MORE

Emigration and Citizenism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I still remember watching this interview with Mikhail Gorbachev in my high school journalism class.  When Tom Brokaw asked Gorbachev about Soviet emigration restrictions, the Soviet dictator self-righteously replied:  What they're [the West] organizing is a brain drain.  And of... MORE

Read Scott Alexander

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I find fascinating new things to read every day.  But it's been a long time since I found a fascinating new thinker to read - someone who makes me say, "Tell me everything."  Then about two weeks ago, I discovered... MORE

Compulsory Attendance IVs Reconsidered

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Using compulsory attendance laws to estimate the causal effect of education on outcomes has been hot in economics for over a decade.  But I was always a skeptic.  The idea that minimum schooling leaving laws are exogenous is bizarre, yet... MORE

Imagining the Proto-Blogosphere

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
How is blogging different from traditional media?  My knee-jerk answer is, "It caters to a higher-IQ audience," but that's not really true.  The real story is that blogging lets a million voices bloom - including but hardly limited to voices... MORE

Crime and Sheepskins

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Criminals are poorly educated.  About 68% of state inmates dropped out of high school.  Many researchers study whether this effect is causal.  As usual, though, I'm more interested in whether the causal effect stems from signaling.  Education could reduce crime... MORE

Ebola Bet Followup

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
I'm pleased by the high quality of comments on my Ebola bet, as well as the unusually high number of people willing to put their money where their mouth is.  First, the takers:Troy Barry:I'll take the bet (first form), not... MORE

Preferences in The Warriors

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
Economics makes many things funnier.  But econ's comedic value-added for the final scene of The Warriors (1979) is truly rich.  The first 15 seconds have the big unintended joke, but don't stop there.... MORE

Ebola Bet

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Mainstream scientists assure us that Ebola poses very little threat to Americans; unless you're a health worker who cares for the infected, Ebola is almost impossible to catch in a rich, modern society.  Yet many populists and borderline conspiracy theorists... MORE

Fixed Costs and Open Borders

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Given existing border controls, mild measures to prevent serious contagious disease seem morally acceptable.  Yet the best choice, in my view, remains fully open borders - tear down the walls and make travel between countries as free as travel within... MORE

The Grand Budapest Hotel's Sublime Apology

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
[mild spoilers]Here's a great scene from Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Gustave, manager of the Grand Budapest Hotel, has just escaped from prison after being framed for murder.  Zero, an immigrant who works as the hotel's lobby boy, helped... MORE

Ebola and Open Borders

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Opponents of immigration almost instantly latched onto Ebola (see here, here and here for starters).  Isn't this horrific disease the "killer argument" showing that open borders is a naively deadly proposal?  The Center for Immigration Studies' Mark Krikorian swiftly coined... MORE

Prosecuting Truancy

Economics of Crime
Bryan Caplan
How are compulsory attendance laws actually enforced?  A preliminary search turned up some surprising claims, especially this:Truancy charges can result in large fines, jail time, and a criminal record for students in Texas--one of only two states (along with Wyoming)... MORE

An Odd A Priori Argument Against Private Education

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
In her chapter on crime in The Social Benefits of Education (Behrman and Stacey, eds., 1997), Ann Dryden Witte provides an argument against private education likely to win many economists' immediate assent:Consider a world in which there were no public interventions... MORE

Diseases of Poverty: Neglecting the Obvious

Economics of Health Care
Bryan Caplan
Before blogging Ebola, I've been reading up on the broader category of "diseases of poverty."  The low-point of the Wikipedia entry:There are a number of proposals for reducing the diseases of poverty and eliminating health disparities within and between countries.... MORE

The Bribes of Columbus

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Christopher Columbus, a slaver and a murderer, exemplifies Western civilization at its worst.  Out of all the efforts to excuse his crimes, the most bizarre I've heard goes something like this:As a resident of the modern United States, you have... MORE

Conservative Relativism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I spent a lot of time conversing with conservative intellectuals this week.  What surprised me most was their moral relativism.  Sure, they spent a lot of time griping about left-wing relativism: The awful liberals refuse to admit the West is... MORE

Risk Analysis in One Lesson

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Mueller and Stewart's new piece on "Responsible Counterterrorism Policy" doubles as a great primer on risk analysis:Terrorism is a hazard to human life, and it should be dealt with in a manner similar to that applied to other hazards--albeit with... MORE

Getting a B.A. and Living With Your Parents

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
The most surprising figure in Arum and Roksa's new Aspiring Adults Adrift:Yes, lots of newly-minted college grads live with their parents.  Yes, the fraction of college grads who live with their parents has sharply increased.  But at least for 22-24... MORE

Aging Out of Addiction

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
I've known about "aging out" for ages, but former addict and neuroscience journalist Maia Szalavitz eloquently boils down the evidence:According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is "a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related... MORE

Rojas on Marijuana Legalization

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Support for marijuana legalization was stalled for decades, then skyrocketed.  What happened?  Vox's latest analysis heavily relies on sociologist Fabio Rojas, also known as the Best Man at my wedding.  Highlights:Fabio Rojas, a professor at Indiana University who studies social... MORE

The Ultimate Incivility

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I've long believed that human beings are overly touchy.  Many actively look for excuses to take offense.  This excess negativity isn't just unpleasant.  Due to the scarcity of attention and patience, unreasonable offense frequently crowds out reasonable offense.  It's no... MORE

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