Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Bryan Caplan: February 2008

An Author Archive by Month (34 entries)

One of the Best Critiques of My Work

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
I just noticed that my former student Jeremy Horpedahl penned an awfully clever critique of my work almost a year ago. Highlight:I would encourage you to read Eva Mueller's 1963 QJE article "Public Attitudes Toward Fiscal Programs." Mueller's survey design... MORE

The Strangest Review of My Book... from Shanghai

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Shanghai Daily takes the prize for the strangest review of my book:True, economics is about profit maximization, and when this is considered the central concern of the state, decision-making becomes much easier. But what is wanted today is not rational... MORE

How Nurture Works

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
In a critique of Brink Lindsey, Arnold writes: "I think that my co-blogger would go ballistic over this 'nurture assumption' methodology." I wouldn't quite go ballistic, because there is solid evidence that growing up in a high-IQ home raises the... MORE

Two Sentences that Make Strange Bedfellows

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Arnold quotes two sentences by Ken Silber. I can't recall the last time that one sentence was so sensible, and the next so wrong-headed. The sensible:The idea that people should be, say, lying down in front of police cars to... MORE

EconLog Enters the Self-Control Market

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
No joke!... MORE

Lax Discipline: Laziness - or Myopia?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
From the comments:Buzzcut writes: Troy, discipline is hard. People are lazy. My guilty pleasure is "Supernanny". Last week, she had a family with 6 kids to deal with (Supernanny said less than 2% of families have 6 or more kids).... MORE

The Case for Kids: What I'm Up Against

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
"Why are People Having Fewer Kids? Perhaps it's because they don't like them very much." That's the title of Ron Bailey's latest piece which very bluntly says what I suspect a lot of people are thinking:[M]odernity essentially transforms children from... MORE

Coolest Macro Paper I've Seen in Years

Growth: Causal Factors
Bryan Caplan
Check out Garett Jones' new working paper, "The O-Ring Sector and the Foolproof Sector: An Explanation for Cross-country Income Differences." His motivation: Previous research indicates that within countries, 1 point of IQ raises wages by about 1%, but across countries,... MORE

Cuba and Capitalist Contagion

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Thinking about Cuba's prospects reminded me of Sobel and Leeson's neat chapter on "The Spread of Global Economic Freedom" in the 2007 Economic Freedom of the World study. In this piece, Sobel and Leeson use spatial econometrics to see whether... MORE

Most academic departments are democracies, at least on paper. Do they work the same way as other democracies, where the median voter basically gets his way? (Well, at least that's my take on democracy). From my experience, the answer is... MORE

After blogging some simple regressions showing that, contra Harford, blacks actually have an unusually high return to education, I emailed my friend, and noted labor economist, Gordon Dahl, for further background. He gave me permission to reprint the following:Neal and... MORE

Castro's Resignation: The Market Says It Matters

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
The gist of CNN's story is that Castro's resignation makes little practical difference. But the market says otherwise:The Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund, which aims to profit from the resumption of U.S. trade with Cuba, surged the most in its 13-year... MORE

We Have a Winner

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
HD-DVD is dead; Blu-Ray lives. How long will it take before someone starts arguing that the wrong format won due to path-dependence problems?... MORE

In my critique of Harford's chapter on statistical discrimination, I wrote:But is it really true that the market fails to reward blacks for getting more education? Is it even true that the market rewards them less? I tested these claims... MORE

There seems to be a lot of demand for me to blog some of my Harford-related regressions on black versus white returns to education. I'll try to satisfy this demand early next week. For now, though, I want to complain... MORE

Tim Harford Replies

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Check it out.... MORE

I'm a fan of Tim Harford's Logic of Life, and I'm a big promoter of the explanatory power of statistical discrimination (see here, here, and here for starters; also check out my lecture notes). So naturally I'm thrilled that Tim's... MORE

Coase in Detroit

Microeconomics
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you signed a contract to pay a worker $100k a year for life. Then a competitor shows up an offers to do the same job for $50k. You can't get out of the contract. What is the best way... MORE

Alcohol and Non-Linear Dosage Effects

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
Our years overlapped, but when I was an undergrad at Berkeley, I never met Aaron Wildavsky. My loss. Here's a great passage he wrote (along with Adam Wildavsky) for Henderson's encyclopedia:Another questionable assumption is that cancer causation is a linear... MORE

Sell-Out Symmetry

Political Economy
Bryan Caplan
A good question from Trent McBride at Distributed Republic:When Republicans use free market rhetoric while campaigning, only to reverse when in office, we (most libertarians) decry their hypocrisy and warn not to believe future statements. And likely correctly so. However,... MORE

The Most Memorable Passage in The Nurture Assumption

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
If you haven't read The Nurture Assumption by Judith Harris, you simply must. Years later, this paragraph is still with me:People sometimes ask me, “So you mean it doesn’t matter how I treat my child?” They never ask, “So you... MORE

When Princeton's Roland Benabou visited GMU a couple weeks ago, he made an argument I've occasionally heard before: Non-economists would disagree with economists less, and respect our views more, if we put more emphasis on the concept of externalities. When... MORE

Gintis on Happiness

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Here's a great passage from Herb Gintis' review of Avner Offer's The Challenge of Affluence:The great American vaudeville singer Sophie Tucker remarked, "I've been rich and I've been poor---and believe me, rich is better." This book... contrasts Sophie Tucker's widely... MORE

Another Surprising Gintis Review

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Herbert Gintis already wrote a surprisingly critical review of Krugman's last book; now he's written a glowing review of Thomas Sowell's latest, Economic Facts and Fallacies:Thomas Sowell is a serious economist and a fine writer. There is not a single... MORE

Unfair Humor for the Greater Good

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life features a truly funny joint review of my The Myth of the Rational Voter and Drew Westen's The Political Brain. This is probably the only published review that I consider unfair. But... MORE

The State of the Arts: Cowen Was Right

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
I first read a draft of Tyler Cowen's In Praise of Commercial Culture 15 years ago. Back then, I thought he was mostly crazy. A combination of my reverence for classical music and Randian contempt for modern culture made me... MORE

Moore on Climate Preferences

Energy, Environment, Resources
Bryan Caplan
A year ago, I asked:Suppose you surveyed a random sample of Americans with the following question: "Overall, would you rather the climate in the area you live got warmer, got cooler, or stayed the same?"While reading Henderson's encyclopedia, I came... MORE

If you write extensively, you've probably had the following experience: You sit down to work on a project, but the good words don't flow. Either you're blocked, or you repeatedly write and erase. Four hours later, you have nothing to... MORE

What's Keeping American Workers Safe?

Labor Market
Bryan Caplan
Fun facts from Kip Viscusi's article on "Job Safety" in David Henderson's encyclopedia: Annual OSHA penalties for safety violations (2002): $149,000,000 Annual Workers Compensation Premiums (2001): $26,000,000,000 Estimated Annual Wage Premiums for Risky Activities (2004 dollars): $245,000,000,000 His point: Market... MORE

Why Did Overall Course Quality at GMU Suddenly Decline?

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
At the end of every semester, GMU students evaluate their courses on a scale of 1-5. As I've discussed before, 5 ("excellent") is the standard response. So I was shocked this morning to see that students at GMU have suddenly... MORE

Dan Klein to Paul Krugman: You Can Do Better

Politics and Economics
Bryan Caplan
Krugman-bashing has become a cottage industry, but you'll have to search long and hard for a better workmanship than this piece by Dan Klein and Harika Barlett. Klein and Barlett inventory all of Krugman's NYT columns, and find a curious... MORE

Great Graphic Novels I've Been Reading

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea and Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China, two autobiographical books by Guy Delisle. Pyongyang will blow you away - especially when you realize that this is the most visual story about North Korea that a... MORE

If You Want Peace, Work for ???: Part 2

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Alan Krueger's book tests the popular story that poverty is the root cause of terrorism. Macedonia: What Does It Take to Stop a War? focuses on a similarly popular "root cause" of war: ethnic tension and mistrust. This autobiographical graphic... MORE

If You Want Peace, Work for ???: Part 1

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
How many times have you seen the bumper sticker "If you want peace, work for justice"? And what do you think the person who pasted that sticker had in mind by "justice," anyway? If you use the other stickers that... MORE

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