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Bryan Caplan: February 2016

An Author Archive by Month (26 entries)
As you may recall, Milton Friedman debated former HEW Secretary Wilbur Cohen on means-testing Social Security back in 1972.  Now let's check out the Friedman highlights.  The Great One begins with his characteristically brilliant contrarianism: Public opinion notwithstanding, Social Security,... MORE

Upcoming Events

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
My next few weeks are packed with speaking engagements - hopefully somewhere near you!  The schedule:1. Students for Liberty, Washington DC.  February 27, 9-10 AM.  "Immigration Restrictions: A Solution in Search of a Problem."2. Institute for Humane Studies, Yale University. ... MORE

In case you missed any segment of the latest Reading Club, here's the full package:BackgroundLead-inPart #1: Putterman and WeilPutterman's Commentaries, with My RepliesPart #2: Comin, Easterly, and GongPart #3: Spolaore and WacziargTwo Fun Facts from Putterman-WeilPart #4: Chanda, Cook, and... MORE

Here are responses to the Reading Club AMA questions, point-by-point:December:What about the possibility that the distribution of traits may vary between populations due to genetic differences between populations? If it is those traits are driving long-run growth, and those traits... MORE

In the comments, Ask Me Anything about ancestry and long-run growth.  Tomorrow I'll do my best to answer every question.P.S. Feel free to repost comments from earlier Reading Club entries.... MORE

Teaching to the Test Bleg

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
I'm looking for good empirical work measuring the prevalence and effects of "teaching to the test."  Nothing good pops up on Google Scholar.  Help!... MORE

I Win My Bush-Trump Bet with Tim Kane

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
Right before Halloween, I bet Tim Kane $20 at even odds that Bush would drop out of the election before Trump.  And so he has.  All praise to Tim for his continuing willingness to bet his beliefs!... MORE

Garett Jones inspired my intellectual journey through the literature on ancestry and long-run growth.  When we debated last semester, I initially expected him to base his case on the economic importance of average national IQ.  He alerted me upfront, however,... MORE

Ancestry and Long-Run Growth Reading Club: Chanda Comments

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Areedam Chanda kindly sent me the following comments on my post on Chanda, Cook, and Putterman. Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Bryan Thanks for choosing to discuss our paper and for your positive reaction. A few... MORE

Prove-Me-Wrong Prizes

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Hard-line libertarians generally oppose libel and slander law: Free speech includes the freedom to speak damaging falsehoods - including damaging falsehoods about specific people.  Whether or not you agree, here's a magic bullet to privately defuse libel and slander: The... MORE

The Question I Didn't Ask Nate Silver

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
During the Q&A for Tyler's Conversation with Nate Silver, this question occurred to me too late to ask in person.  Here goes:In the show Orange Is the New Black, you're named as a living, breathing embodiment of human rationality. Are... MORE

Welcome to the fourth and final installment of the EconLog Reading Club on Ancestry and Long-Run Growth. This week's paper: Chanda, Areendam, C. Cook, and Louis Putterman. "Persistence of Fortune: Accounting for Population Movements, There Was No Post-Columbian Reversal." American... MORE

Praise: Substitution versus Income Effects

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Touchy-feely parents shower praise on their kids.  "Great job!"  "You're super smart!"  "Wonderful."  Old-school parents do the opposite.  "You could have done better."  "A-?"  "That won't get you into Harvard."Why the chasm?  The real story, I suspect, is emotional rather... MORE

Hopeless Excuses

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Suppose I'm right about mental illness.  Telling people they're "sick" might still be a noble lie that makes them feel better.  But the reverse is also true: Even if I'm wrong, telling people they're "sick" might be harmful.  Perhaps the... MORE

Putterman-Weil Data

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
With the authors' kind permission, here is Putterman and Weil's data in Excel format.... MORE

Two Fun Facts from Putterman-Weil

Book Club
Bryan Caplan
Putterman and Weil generously shared their whole data set with me - including a lot of info not available online.  I soon discovered two fun facts about ancestry-adjusted state and agricultural history.  Remember that state history is bounded from 0-1,... MORE

Betting Rules

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Tyler on the meta-lesson of our unemployment bet: Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:200%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Arial",sans-serif;... MORE

Welcome to the third installment of the EconLog Reading Club on Ancestry and Long-Run Growth. This week's paper: Spolaore, Enrico, and Roman Wacziarg. "How Deep Are the Roots of Economic Development?" Journal of Economic Literature 51 (2): 325-369.  The authors'... MORE

A Simple Proof Not All Markets Work Well

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Twenty five years ago, I interned at the Cato Institute and met Jerry Taylor.  Now he runs the Niskanen Center.  Here's what Jerry says about the movement we've both inhabited for decades:Libertarians love to preach the virtues of markets. Yet... MORE

I Win My Long-Term Unemployment Bet with Tyler

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Barely two years ago, Tyler Cowen and I agreed to the following bet:...U.S. unemployment will never fall below 5% during the next twenty years.  If the rate falls below 5% before September 1, 2033, he immediately owes me $10.  Otherwise,... MORE

Via email, Easterly tells me that their "distance from the equator" variable is "the ratio of degrees of latitude to 90 degrees."  So what do their results imply about the net effect of immigration?  Let's return to their key table,... MORE

Welcome to the second installment of the EconLog Reading Club on Ancestry and Long-Run Growth. This week's paper: Comin, Diego, William Easterly, and Erick Gong. 2010. "Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 BC?" American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics 2... MORE

Louis Putterman responds to my reading club post on Putterman-Weil.  Reprinted with his kind permission: I just wanted to offer one correction and one further quick comment.  You wrote: "How could one even begin to construct such a matrix?  Whenever... MORE

Two Election Bets

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
1. Steve Pearlstein bets $50 at even odds that Ted Cruz wins the Republican nomination.  I bet against.2. Nathaniel Bechhofer bets $40 at 2:1 that Hillary Clinton wins the 2016 presidential election.  I bet against.My reasoning, in both cases, is... MORE

ADHD Reconsidered

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Several readers have taken issue with my use of the term "ADHD."  To be honest, I'm not comfortable with it either, but my reason is the opposite of my critics.  Like the late great Thomas Szasz, my objection is that... MORE

ADHD Shall Save Us

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Back in 2012, I wrote:The median American is no Nazi, but he is a moderate national socialist - statist to the core on both economic and social policy.  Given public opinion, the policies of First World democracies are surprisingly libertarian.Since... MORE

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